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Amtrak told NBC 15 News Tuesday night it intends to restore daily routes to New Orleans as early as possible next year. However, we've learned it's not a done deal. Amtrak has not reached an agreement with CSX, the freight carrier that owns most of the tracks along the route.
Last year, Mobile city leaders requested a study be done to fully understand the impact of passenger rail on existing freight traffic at the port.
"The study was to bring together the freight rails and the passenger together," said Southern Rail Commissioner Wiley Blankenship.
Amtrak says after a year of discussions, "There was no sign of any conclusion in sight." In a statement, Amtrak went on to say, "We have notified the freight railroads of our intention to begin service next year. We have again asked the freight railroads where they believe there are more issues."
At Tuesday's Mobile council meeting, Blankenship informed city leaders the two sides were at an impasse.
"I'm hesitant to give you a timeline about when the passenger rail and freight rails would come to a conclusion because right now they're not talking," said Blankenship.
A spokesperson for CSX says it disagrees with how Amtrak characterizes what happened and says they were "close to the finish line" on the modeling study. An engineering study would have followed that would've taken a few months. CSX also says it invites Amtrak back to the table to finish these necessary studies that must be done.
This article first appeared on mynbc15.com
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