July 4, 2021 - TRA Newswire -

A  new development in a long-range plan to put people on trains in the I-20 corridor.

Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards last week appointed Shreveport Mayor Adrian Perkins as an at-large member of the three-state Southern Rail Commission.

Now that Congress has raised the interest level on passenger rail, Perkins said that he will be pushing ahead on a long-planned priority project of extending Amtrak service from Dallas-Fort Worth through East Texas and Shreveport to Atlanta and east coast cities. According to Perkins, his appointment helps "put us one step closer to getting passenger rail here and I suspect that in a couple of years we'll be able to see us getting on trains out of Shreveport."

As part of the Louisiana Long Range I-20 Corridor project, that state funded a 2015 feasibility study to link the DFW region with Shreveport and Vicksburg, Mississippi. The Northwest Louisiana Council of Governments completed the study, which found that passenger rail would benefit many segments of the economy and allow more mobility for its citizens.

The I-20 Corridor Council on the Texas side, headed by former County Judge Richard Anderson in Marshall, said the goal of developing passenger rail is to have trains running at speeds of 90-115 mils per hour. "You can move more people from an environmental standpoint with less impact by rail and you can work on your wi-fi while you travel. Tourism will benefit from the economic impact", according to Anderson.

The Southern Commission is comprised of three states (Alabama, Louisiana and Mississippi) and the governors appoint their state members. Alabama has six member, Louisiana has five and Mississippi has four.

The 97th Congress authorized Interstate Rail Compacts that allow contiguous states to form these bodies to cooperate on developing passenger rail service. Texas has not yet joined the Southern Rail Commission, although the federally authorized Gulf Coast High Speed Rail Corridor extends from Houston east to Louisiana.

Over the last decade the North Central Texas Council of Governments has been working with other governmental planning organizations eastward from DFW to forge Memorandums of Understanding in a uniform plan for extending passenger rail to East Texas and beyond.