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Surface Transportation Board calls for mediator in Amtrak, CSX hearings

Photo courtesy of Amtrak.

After weeks of hearings between Amtrak and freight rail company CSX, the Surface Transportation Board has issued a ruling before the debate for a passenger rail car along the Gulf Coast can continue.

One of the main rulings passed down by the board includes requiring a mediator between the two companies as the hearings proceed.

The mediator must meet with both rail companies to ensure a clear determination of whether the addition of a passenger train along the Mississippi railway corridor does not interfere with other freight company businesses.

In addition to a mediator, CSX is required to grant Amtrak access to all confidential traffic data so each company can file new traffic studies to the board by July 13.

For years, Amtrak has attempted to create a passenger train route along the coast, with the debate being mentioned once again in February.

The route would consist of two roundtrips per day between New Orleans, La., and Mobile, Ala., with four stops in Mississippi.

According to CSX, not only would the cost of repairs for the railcars total up to $400 million in taxpayer dollars, it would also further congest the railway corridor.

It’s not the first time a passenger train has been available along the Gulf Coast, as the service was offered prior to Hurricane Katrina in 2005.

Now, CSX and Amtrak will begin a mediation period for no more than 30 days as the board decides if Amtrak will be able to begin providing a passenger train route along the coast once again.

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