January 1, 2017 – Politico –
In the Donald Trump era, even red-state Republicans are cheering Amtrak’s efforts to restart the Gulf Coast passenger train line that Hurricane Katrina wiped out.
MOBILE, Ala. — A decade after Hurricane Katrina wiped out a long stretch of Amtrak’s transcontinental passenger route in the Deep South, the railroad is plotting to bring it back. And it’s attracted a seemingly unlikely group of cheerleaders: red-state Republicans.
For Amtrak, extending the City of New Orleans line from Louisiana to Orlando, Fla., is a chance to demonstrate that its traditionally money-losing long-distance routes deserve Congress’ investment. It could also mark a shift in some Republicans’ attitudes toward Amtrak, after decades of GOP leaders in Washington trying to slash the passenger rail’s funding and force it to dump unprofitable routes.
Now local and state Republican leaders along the Gulf Coast are promoting a revived Amtrak route as a tool for commerce and jobs. That argument mirrors the pro-transportation message of President-elect Donald Trump, who is proposing a nationwide $1 trillion infrastructure upgrade that he says would make the nation’s roads, bridges, airports and railroads “second to none.”
Could a new era of an Amtrak-friendly GOP be at hand?