By Andrea Romano
February 14, 2020
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A plan for Amtrak to return to serving the Gulf Coast is in the works.

According to Alabama news outlet, AL.com, the Mobile City Council recently voted to restore a specific Amtrak route between Mobile and New Orleans earlier this month. This decision would mean that this particular route will return for the first time since Hurricane Katrina in 2005.

In the 6-1 vote on Feb. 4, AL reported that the council decided to dedicate $3 million for four trains to run daily — mornigng and evening — between Mobile and New Orleans.

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“This is a positive and it sends a clear message that Mobilians want to see this train moving,” Wiley Blankenship, a representative of the Southern Rail Commission (SRC) and president and CEO of the Coastal Alabama Partnership, said. “We’ve got a lot of work to do. We can celebrate this one small milestone, but we have to secure infrastructure and we have to help the city find a way to secure (money) to build the station out.”

The Mobile City Council has also named some contingencies around its financial commitment, namely a study measuring how passenger rail could impact the local freight rail system.

Additionally, some opponents of this new initiative have cited possibly heavy burdens on taxpayers as well in terms of providing revenue and paying for operating the line, with one council member referring to the project as "a joy ride for the affluent.”

Still, the return of more rail travel could be a win for environmentally conscious travelers.

According to The Lonely Planet, tourists and locals along the Gulf Coast have been opting for air and road travel to get to New Orleans, as well as other Southern cities for years since Katrina.

Now, with the issue of climate change looming and “flight shaming” becoming more of the norm, train travel across the country has also become more popular.