For Immediate Release (21-20)
Contact: Sean Jeans-Gail (202) 320-2723; firstname.lastname@example.org
Rail Passengers Statement on CSX & NS Claims That Gulf Coast Passenger Train Would ‘Devastate’ Freight Operations
Washington, D.C. – Statement from Rail Passengers Association President & CEO Jim Mathews on the Nov. 3 filing by CSX Transportation and Norfolk Southern Railway to the Surface Transportation Board, regarding the effort by the Southern Rail Commission and Amtrak to restore Gulf Coast passenger train service in Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama.
“The breathless claims that adding a single daily roundtrip train to the operational environment of two Class I railroads would ‘devastate’ their freight operations are prima facie absurd. It’s clear this is just another stalling tactic by the railroads,” said Mathews. “CSX opened negotiations with a $2 billion price tag to restore Gulf Coast passenger rail service, this new filing prices the upgrades to accommodate the train at $400 million, but we have little explanation behind the difference in figures. It appears that the goal is to simply draw this process out in the hope that talks collapse. This new filing is yet another piece of evidence that the only way forward is for the STB to exercise its regulatory oversight to allow for transparency. If the U.S. hopes to benefit from the passenger rail provisions in the bipartisan infrastructure bill currently being considered by Congress, the STB must provide a path to a speedy resolution to this question of access.”
“This vital transportation link for the 2 million residents of the Gulf Coast in Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama has been severed since Hurricane Katrina devastated the region in 2005, and it’s long past time to bring it back,” added Mathews. “It’s not just about moving people from Point A to Point B, but the economic value that connection brings. The obstructionism by CSX and NS is denying Alabama’s residents roughly $6 million in economic benefits from constructing and launching the new service, and anywhere from $12 million to as much as $220 million in annual benefits to Alabama’s economy. After 16 years of delays and deferrals, it’s time.”
About Rail Passengers Association
The Rail Passengers Association is the oldest and largest national organization serving as a voice for the more than 40 million rail passengers in the U.S. Our mission is to improve and expand conventional intercity and regional passenger train services, support higher speed rail initiatives, increase connectivity among all forms of transportation and ensure safety for our country's trains and passengers. All of this makes communities safer, more accessible and more productive, improving the lives of everyone who lives, works and plays in towns all across America.