Amtrak to Tallahassee at a Standstill

By: City of Tallahassee Release, Lanetra Bennett Email
By: City of Tallahassee Release, Lanetra Bennett Email

UPDATE -- May 24, 2012 --

Tallahassee Mayor John Marks and the city commission had a joint Mayor/Chair meeting with the Leon County Commissioners Thursday, May 24th.

Of note on the agenda is an update on the efforts to bring Amtrak back to Tallahassee. Congress does not want to put any money into the proposal at this time, and members of both the Leon County commissioners and city commission feel there is nothing more they can do about it right now.

Both sides agreed this will be their last joint meeting until at least September.

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Tallahassee, Leon Co. Officials Want Passenger Train Service Back

Updated by Lanetra Bennett - Tallahassee, FL - Feb. 27, 2012 -

As gasoline prices approach $4 a gallon, local officials say alternative transportation is much needed.

That alternative, they say, should be the train; which they say is 30 percent more efficient than driving.

Freight trains come through this area. But, local officials say it's time for passengers to be able to hop on board.

Tallahassee resident Daniel Pineau says he's always been very fond of riding the train. "Riding the train is a wonderful experience. My whole childhood was about trains."

Local leaders are urging federal and state lawmakers to restore Amtrak passenger service to North Florida.

Robert Stewart, Chairman of the National Association of Railroad Passengers, says, "Tallahassee, a state capital in a state that's going to be number third in the nation in size, should have rail service."

Amtrak passenger service was suspended in 2005 when Hurricane Katrina caused damage to part of the Sunset Limited Route from New Orleans to Jacksonville.

The tracks have been repaired enough for freight train traffic, but, not for passenger service.

Tallahassee City Commissioner Nancy Miller says, "Not only do we not have access to that method of transportation, it also means that we don't have access to the economic stimulus that occurs in places where train stops are located."

County commissioners say Tallahassee's train station was built in 1858, making it the oldest Amtrak station on the national register of historic places.

They say, sadly enough, though, it's the only Amtrak station not in operation as a train station.

Stewart says, "If somebody says to you, nobody rides the trains. That's a bunch of bologna. People are riding the trains. People want an alternative to fly and to drive today, and the train is the answer."

Commissioners say the building has been kept up over the years and is already ready to go. The only thing they're waiting on is the passenger service.

Local leaders urge residents to contact members of Congress to voice their support of restoring service to the region. See the press release below for information on how you can do that.

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PRESS RELEASE:

Tallahassee, Florida - Feb. 27, 2012 -

City of Tallahassee and Leon County officials, joined by representatives from cities and counties throughout North Florida, gathered at the Tallahassee Amtrak station today, urging federal and state transportation officials to restore Amtrak passenger rail service between New Orleans and Jacksonville. The group called upon citizens to contact their state and federal elected officials and voice their support for restoring service to the region.

Through the leadership of the Tallahassee City Commission, over 15 resolutions have been received from local governments and organizations throughout North Florida, calling for the restoration of Amtrak passenger rail service to the region.

“Reestablishing Amtrak passenger service through North Florida will strengthen our local economies and offer new opportunities for our citizens,” said Tallahassee Mayor John Marks. “North Florida communities have waited nearly seven years for the restoration of passenger rail, and we respectfully urge Congress and the legislature to resume this service.”

There has been no Amtrak passenger rail service in North Florida since 2005, when Hurricane Katrina caused damage to part of the Sunset Limited Route from New Orleans to Jacksonville. Repairs enabled the restoration of freight train traffic; however, Amtrak has not reestablished passenger service along this portion of the Sunset Limited Route. The federal Passenger Rail Investment and Improvement Act of 2008 required Amtrak to submit a plan to restore passenger rail service between New Orleans, Louisiana and Jacksonville/Sanford, Fla., but the necessary steps detailed in this plan have yet to be implemented.

“As gasoline prices reach $4 a gallon, North Florida residents are seeking alternative modes of transportation,” said Tallahassee City Commissioner Nancy Miller. “Since Amtrak service is 30 percent more efficient than travel by car, rail transit should be an option for Tallahassee and other communities throughout North Florida.”

The State of Florida plans to spend $118 million to reestablish service from Miami to Jacksonville, yet there has been no further effort to resume passenger service for North Florida. In light of this situation, the following local governments and organizations have passed resolutions supporting the restoration of Amtrak service and the Sunset Limited Route:

· City of Tallahassee

· City of Madison

· City of Pensacola

· City of Marianna

· City of Quincy

· City of Perry

· City of Live Oak

· City of Milton

· City of DeFuniak Springs

· Leon County

· Escambia County

· Madison County

· Franklin County

· Wakulla County

· Gadsden County

· Northwest Florida League of Cities/ Suwannee River League of Cities

The resolutions will be delivered to Governor Rick Scott and leadership within the state legislature and the U.S. Congress. In addition, citizens are encouraged to contact their state and federal elected officials, respectfully urging them to support the restoration of North Florida passenger rail service. A link to do so is available on the Mayor's Talgov.com web page, located at http://www.talgov.com/mayor/index.cfm.

“Passenger rail service between New Orleans and Jacksonville is a strategically important component of the national intercity passenger train system,” said Robert J. Stewart, chairman of the National Association of Railroad Passengers. “This route segment will serve an unmet need by connecting Florida with the southern and western United States.”

For more information about the restoration of Amtrak passenger rail service between New Orleans and Jacksonville, please review Amtrak’s P.R.I.I.A. Section 226 Gulf Coast Service Plan Report.


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