January 7, 2022 - TRA Newswire -

A long-sought extension of direct passenger service between Dallas and the East Coast got a shot in the arm as Amtrak and Canadian Pacific Railway announced an agreement with Amtrak supporting the proposed combination of CP and Kansas City Southern (KCS) railways.

“CP has been an excellent host of Amtrak intercity passenger service year after year and has established itself as a leader in the railroad industry,” said Stephen J. Gardner, Amtrak President. “We welcome CP’s commitment to our efforts with states and others to expand Amtrak service and are pleased to have reached an agreement formalizing CP’s support of Amtrak expansion in the Midwest and the South.

“Given CP’s consistent record as an Amtrak host, we support CP’s proposal to expand its network,” Gardner added. “This is exactly what Congress and the Administration are seeking: Amtrak and the freight railroads working together to benefit freight customers, Amtrak passengers, our state/regional partners and the general public.”

What has been referred to as the Crescent extension, named after the Amtrak service between New Orleans and Washington/New York, has been sought by regional and local government and advocacy groups across East Texas, Louisiana and Mississippi for some two decades. Meridian, Mississippi would be the meeting point for through train service from Texas to join with the Crescent to and from New Orleans.

"In addition to our previous multi-state efforts, the I-20 Corridor Council has been working since this past summer with Congresswoman Eddie Bernice Johnson, representing the 30th District of Texas which includes southern Dallas, to urge Amtrak to solidify its commitment to bring passenger rail service to this corridor," according to Chairman Richard Anderson of Marshall. "It's heartening news as we have already completed a feasibility and capacity study for the route. The I-20 Corridor Council looks forward to working with Canadian Pacific and especially appreciates the efforts of the Southern Rail Commission for their partnership." The I-20 Corridor Council consists of government agencies and advocacy organizations across three states.

“We are proud of the success we have achieved as a host railroad providing industry-leading service to Amtrak on our lines,” said Keith Creel, CP President and Chief Executive Officer. “We thank Amtrak for its support of our historic combination, which will have no adverse effects on intercity passenger service. CP is pleased to continue to support Amtrak and its infrastructure projects to provide capacity needed to accommodate additional service.”

CP has consistently received an A rating from Amtrak in its annual host railroad report card, recognizing its industry-leading on-time performance record. CP is also the first Class I railroad to complete 100 percent certification of its Amtrak schedules to the U.S. Surface Transportation Board (STB).

Subject to CP’s application for control of KCS being approved by the STB, the agreement also includes CP’s commitment to support Amtrak efforts to work with the Southern Rail Commission (SRC) and others for the first service in more than 50 years on a route with Amtrak service between New Orleans and Baton Rouge, La.

“We appreciate the work Amtrak is doing to unite more of the south with passenger trains, from Mobile to New Orleans to Baton Rouge and now opening the door in this agreement to directly connect Mississippi and Louisiana with Texas on the I-20 Corridor,” said SRC Chairman Knox Ross of Mississippi. “The SRC continues to be impressed by CP welcoming the start of new Amtrak service west of New Orleans to Baton Rouge, while other railroads have fought new Amtrak service.”

Amtrak and CP will file their agreement as part of the docket in the CP-KCS proceeding at the STB.