Ever since Hurricane Katrina swept across the Deep South in 2005, shredding the region’s railways, it’s been impossible to take a train heading east from New Orleans to the rest of the Gulf Coast. For years, Amtrak has been trying to restore service in the form of a twice-a-day line between New Orleans and Mobile, Alabama. But it’s met fierce resistance from two rail giants — CSX and Norfolk Southern — which own most of the tracks that the agency wants to use.
The freight companies argue that, without significant changes, any resumption of passenger services would ensnare their routes with traffic, sending costly delays down the country’s supply chain at a time when businesses are already plagued by shortages and slowed shipments.
The dispute is before federal regulators, with hearings set to restart May 9, and experts say their ruling will have far-reaching implications for the future of passenger rail in America. President Joe Biden, once known as “Amtrak Joe,” is eager to boost rail, allotting Amtrak $66 billion of last year’s infrastructure package. That would help cut emissions from transportation — the U.S.’s biggest source of gre... Read more