NEW ORLEANS (WGNO) — Governor John Bel Edwards signed a service development agreement to restore intercity passenger rail service between Baton Rouge and New Orleans.
The agreement aims to bridge the gap that was left in November 1969 when the Southern Belle passenger service ended.
Edwards made the historic announcement at the New Orleans Union Passenger Terminal, accompanied by Department of Transportation and Development Secretary Eric Kalivoda, Amtrak CEO Stephen Gardner, and New Orleans Mayor Latoya Cantrell.
While the route has yet to be named, Edwards highlighted its potential to alleviate road congestion, stimulate economic activity between the two cities, and open up job opportunities. It also aims to provide enhanced transportation options for commuters.
The proposed service will include strategic stops in Downtown Baton Rouge, Gonzales, LaPlace, Louis Armstrong International Airport, Jefferson Parish, and the New Orleans Union Passenger Terminal. The trip is estimated to take 75 to 90 minutes.
The trains will utilize the existing tracks of Canadian Pacific Kansas City (CPKC) and CN railways, which are direct and minimally impact freight traffic.
Infrastructure enhancements are slated to begin next year. Among the projects is the potential replacement of the CPKC rail bridge over the Bonnet Carre Spillway. This route also aims to connect to the New Orleans to Mobile corridor and is estimated to open in 2024.
Amtrak, tasked with the route’s operations, will reveal schedules and fares closer to its projected 2027 launch.
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