SRC chair: Support events like ‘Rally for Trains’

Published 9:32 am Saturday, June 10, 2017

Southern Rail Commission Chairperson Greg White said this week that the organization encourages support for events such as the “Rally for Trains” which will be held this month.

Rally for Trains will take place in Birmingham and in more than 20 cities that face the potential loss of Amtrak trains and other local transit services, on June 23.

The event is coordinated by the National Association of Railroad Passengers in opposition to the proposed FY 2018 budget cuts that effectively eliminate Amtrak’s long distance train service in more than 220 cities for 140 million people.

“The Southern Rail Commission encourages support for these event, and we hope for strong turnout,” White said. “NARP is very active in support of our specific project – the return of service to the Gulf Coast, new service along the I-20 corridor from Dallas-Ft. Worth to Jackson, Miss., as well as a couple of state-specific routes. They see these expansions of Amtrak service as impacting the economy across the South. Local voices across the region are speaking in favor of enhanced passenger rail service.“

White said the budget battles are real and that tough decisions must be made.

“I applaud leaders in DC for having the conversation, but I suggest that any proposals that move our transportation backward – limiting options to much of rural America – are undesirable,” he said.

According to NARP, this could be the last travel season for millions of Americans.

“If Congress enacts this budget, our national passenger rail network will largely cease to exist,” said Jim Mathews, president and CEO of NARP. “Communities and rail passengers need to clearly and loudly tell Congress that our communities and citizens rely on trains as important travel options.”

Although the threatened services are commonly called long-distance trains, they also serve as local and regional transportation for the communities they serve. In Montana and North Dakota, for example, Amtrak’s long distance trains connect 19 towns and cities on a single corridor. In Florida, 28 communities are bound together by long distance routes that offer an important travel option for family and business travelers.”

The SRC has been actively working with Amtrak to resort passenger rail service for the past two year to the Gulf Coast. It has been more than a decade since the passenger rail has run along the Gulf Coast. Hurricane Katrina halted it in 2005.

The location of the Birmingham rally is 1 19th St. North Birmingham, AL 35203