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Amtrak pushes for access to Gulf Coast networks of CSX, NS

Passenger railway wants access to Choctaw yard in Mobile

A train with CSX tank cars. (Photo: Jim Allen/FreightWaves)

Amtrak is urging the Surface Transportation Board to compel CSX and Norfolk Southern to allow it access to their networks along the U.S. Gulf Coast.

Doing so enables Amtrak to “perform all necessary preparations for the restoration of the Gulf Coast service,” it said in a Wednesday filing to STB.

Amtrak is seeking to reinstall passenger service between New Orleans and Mobile, Alabama, but CSX (NASDAQ: CSX) and NS (NYSE: NSC) want all stakeholders, including Amtrak, to complete a study that would look at how Amtrak’s service would affect freight rail services. CSX also owns the tracks that Amtrak would use to go between both Gulf Coast cities. Meanwhile, Amtrak says there have been several studies that have already been done and that it could lose federal funding if the service restoration doesn’t proceed.

In last week’s filing, Amtrak contended that Amtrak is no longer receiving the access to CSX’s rail lines in certain areas and that CSX is “no longer working with Amtrak to reach a suitable accommodation.” As a result, Amtrak wants the board to issue an order requiring CSX and NS to work with it on allowing access to their networks. 

The “certain areas” pertain to CSX’s Choctaw yard in Mobile. Amtrak is seeking to use the site for a temporary layover track for its Gulf Coast service. It previously used the track there to store trains for its Gulf Coast Limited and Gulf Breeze services. But CSX removed the track in late 2019 as the parties were in talks to restore Amtrak’s Gulf Coast service, according to Amtrak, and CSX “is now refusing Amtrak’s request to cooperate on a survey of the site for Amtrak to evaluate the potential restoration of the track or determine other options for an interim layover track.”

Attorneys for Amtrak argued in last Wednesday’s filing, “Amtrak should not have to petition the board to force CSX to take actions that CSX is not only statutorily and contractually obligated to take but that it already promised Amtrak it would take.” 

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One Comment

  1. E Morse

    All Amtrak federal subsidies should end, if a company cannot make a profit or at least break even they should not be able to continue loosing tax payer funds.

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Joanna Marsh

Joanna is a Washington, DC-based writer covering the freight railroad industry. She has worked for Argus Media as a contributing reporter for Argus Rail Business and as a market reporter for Argus Coal Daily.