The federal budget bill signed Friday by President Trump may eventually allow for restored Amtrak service along the Gulf coast between New Orleans and Florida, which was suspended indefinitely after bad damage to tracks from Hurricane Katrina in 2005.
The spending plan includes money for grants that could go to restore service to routes formerly operated by Amtrak, such as the service that ran between the Florida Panhandle over to New Orleans.
“President Trump signed the FY18 omnibus appropriations bill that provides big wins and great opportunities for the Southern Rail Commission and for the return of Amtrak’s Gulf Coast service,” the Southern Rail Commission, which has been pushing for the service to be restored, said in a press release last week.
The Pensacola News Journal reported Tuesday that U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson hopes that the grant program will go toward restoring the service, which is now envisioned as eventually connecting New Orleans and Orlando.
U.S. Sen. Roger Wicker of Mississippi, who has been a supporter of restoring the Amtrak service, has said a key safety issue – the installation of positive train control capability – on the route needs to be taken care of, and that slowness in doing so may delay a new start-up for the service.