BATON ROUGE, La (BRPROUD)- The Baton Rouge Area Foundation, along with the SoLA Super Region Committee, held a meeting to discuss plans for a passenger rail between Baton Rouge and New Orleans on existing tracks.
Studies say that $262 million in upgrades would bring the tracks up to standards for inter-city rail. Recommended train stops are downtown and the Health District in Baton Rouge, Gonzales, LaPlace, Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport and the Union Passenger Terminal next to the Superdome in New Orleans.
Passenger rail service between Louisiana’s two largest cities would follow Canadian Pacific’s approved control of the track, as proposed in the pending Canadian Pacific-Kansas City Southern merger application, and completion of necessary infrastructure improvements in conjunction with stakeholders.
“We look forward to the expansion and working with Amtrak to develop passenger service,” stated Clements. “This is historic. We’re excited about what this does for our customers, and what this does for our communities.”
After the acquisition, every Class I railroad that operates in the United States will have a presence within Louisiana and at the Port of New Orleans. CP has been the industry leader in operating Amtrak in the U.S. for the past six years, and it is the top-rated freight line working with passenger rail in the country. Clements highlighted Canadian Pacific’s longstanding leadership in passenger rail delivery, while highlighting institutional priorities of safety, accessibility, and sustainability.
“We are absolutely committed to working with the freight and passenger community,” said Governor Edwards. “I stand here to welcome Canadian Pacific to Louisiana and look forward to having a long, successful relationship with them. Now is the time to think big for transportation in our state.”
Erin Monroe Wesley, 2021 Chair of SoLA and Southeast Vice President of Government and Public Affairs for Cox Communications, said, “According to a 2019 poll, 85% of respondents are in favor of passenger rail service between New Orleans and Baton Rouge.” She elaborated on the invitation extended by SoLA to Canadian Pacific representatives to review passenger rail priorities, leading to today’s event.
Vast expansion of passenger rail funding is included in the recently passed Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA), offering $66B in total for rail and multiple relevant programs, such as Federal-State Partnership for Intercity Passenger Rail grants. The IIJA will supply funding for Amtrak to further its 15-year corridor vision plan, which envisions routes accessing additional communities and specifically identifies passenger rail between the Baton Rouge and New Orleans metros as a service corridor. Amtrak’s plans outline its goal to carry 20 million more passengers by 2035.
The SoLA Super Region Committee has long advocated for passenger rail service between Baton Rouge and New Orleans as a priority for economic competitiveness, business and talent attraction, and disaster preparedness, and today’s commitment by Canadian Pacific Railway advances this regional effort.