The Canadian Pacific freight railway company announced its support for Amtrak’s expansion of passenger railway services along the Interstate 20 corridor this month.
The two companies announced on Jan. 6 that they had reached an agreement, which formalized CP’s support for the expansion.
“Given CP’s consistent record as an Amtrak host, we support CP’s proposal to expand its network. 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,” Amtrak President Stephen J. Gardner said in the announcement.
The announcement also conveyed Amtrak’s support of CP’s proposed merger with Kansas City Southern railways, negotiations for which began in March 2021.
This announcement was welcome new to the members of the 1-20 Corridor Council, a nonprofit advocacy organization and multi-state coalition comprised of mayors, judges, elected officials and other stakeholders along the I-20 Corridor, which has been working consistently for more than 15 years to establish the East-West long-distance passenger rail connection between Dallas/Fort Worth and Atlanta.
The expansion would also connect to the East Coast, Washington, D.C. and New York City.
The announcement also stated that if CP’s application for control of KCS is approved by the Surface Transportation Board, the agreement would also include CP’s commitment to support Amtrak’s efforts to work with the Southern Railway Commission and others for the first service in more than 50 years on two U.S. routes.
The two passenger rail routes referenced in the announcement were Amtrak service between New Orleans and Baton Rouge and to study the potential for Amtrak service between Meridian, Mississippi and Dallas, which is the proposed I-20 Corridor passenger rail route and would include Marshall and Longview.
“The I-20 Corridor Council and all who have been working with great devotion to re-establish this important East-West passenger rail connection across the southeastern region of our nation are very pleased and grateful for the positive steps that Amtrak and Canadian Pacific announced this week. We look forward to continued progress in this regard as we continue to work toward making the I-20 Corridor long distance passenger rail connection a reality for the great benefit of our Southern region and nation,” Former Texas State Senator and former Harrison County Judge Richard Anderson, the chairman of the I-20 Corridor Council said.
In addition to thanking Amtrak, CP, and the members of the multi-state I-20 Corridor coalition, Anderson also thanked other passenger rail advocacy organizations and governmental commissions who support the proposed I-20 Corridor passenger rail route such as the Southern Rail Commission, Texas Eagle Marketing and Performance Organization (TEMPO), North Central Texas Council of Governments, East Texas Council of Governments, Coordinating and Development Corporation, Rail Passengers Association, Texas Rail Advocates and others.
Anderson also stated that, with the passage of the $1.2 trillion Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA), which was signed into law by President Biden on Nov. 15, the I-20 Corridor passenger rail project could provide an excellent return on investment. He states that thats because it would require a comparatively small fraction of a percent of what will be needed for this project from the $16 billion which the IIJA has designated for long-distance passenger rail.
“The feasibility and capacity studies on the I-20 Corridor route, which have been completed by Amtrak, TXDOT, and others using the $738,000 in grant funding that the Corridor Council obtained with the assistance of former U.S. Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison, determined that the I-20 Corridor route would be economically viable on existing right of way without any annual subsidy and that capacity could be increased, such as additional sidings, for a relatively low cost and in relatively short period of time. Plus, this new passenger rail service should not adversely affect freight traffic,” Anderson said.
Anderson also shared his deep appreciation for his former Texas Senate colleague, Congresswoman Eddie Bernice Johnson, who, since 1993, has represented the Texas 30th Congressional District, which includes southern Dallas. Representative Johnson also serves as a senior member of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee.
“Again, we appreciate these positive steps by Amtrak and CP for the routes in the Midwest and South referenced in this week’s announcement. Plus, in rural Amtrak-served communities such as Marshall and Longview, we always appreciate the strong partnership with Amtrak,” Anderson said, “We look forward to continued progress ahead not only in collaborating to establish the important I-20 Corridor route but also strengthening the Texas Eagle route to its full pre-pandemic capacity and strengthening the Amtrak’s National Network.”