New discussions are underway to revive the defunct Amtrak commuter rail line in Tallahassee, and redeveloping the station near Florida A&M’s campus.
The Amtrak route once connected Tallahassee to other stations. The Gulf Coast Connector’s Sunset Limited was discontinued in late 2005 after Hurricane Katrina destroyed many of the tracks, according to the National Association of Railroad Passengers.
The NARP also claims that although the tracks have been repaired since 2005, the Amtrak trains remain “an indefinite suspension of the Sunset Limited east of New Orleans.”
The Sunset Limited was a commuter train that linked New Orleans and Jacksonville, with stops in Biloxi, Mobile, Pensacola, and Tallahassee.
Jay Townsend, assistant city manager, said he and other city officials have been working to get the route reinstated.
“The talk of Amtrak trains returning is just starting to begin. The City Commission had a meeting in order to start bringing the trains back to Tallahassee,” said Townsend.
“A passed resolution was sent to congressional delegation that states the commission supports to bring it back.”
The Amtrak Service Resolution included a 2009 Gulf Coast Service Plan Report, outlining a means of restoring and revising the train route. Since there is no commuter train service that travels through Tallahassee, the Amtrak Service Resolution said, “The purpose of the resolution is to urge the Federal Government to restore service to the Gulf Coast region as soon as possible for both economic and quality of life regions.”
Kaya Jones, a freshman from Tallahassee, likes the idea of Amtrak services returning to the city.
“If Amtrak trains to returned, it would provide many jobs for people who are unemployed,” said the environmental science student. “It would also give students an alternative means of transportation than the bus or airplanes.”
In 1858, the Tallahassee station was built and is the oldest Amtrak station named on the National Register of Historic Places. It is the only station on the historic list not in use.
The Sunset Limited also ran east of New Orleans for 12 years, between 1993 and 2005. After the tracks were repaired in 2006, the Amtrak service was not renewed but cargo trains were.
“It would be nice if the Amtrak train returned to Tallahassee,” said sophomore student and Miami native Samyra Wilson. “It gives people a chance to relax and experience an exciting option to transportation.”