WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Roger Wicker, R-Miss., today praised the award of $178,435,333 from the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) to provide crucial funding to restore passenger rail service along the Mississippi Gulf Coast. A second award of $52,000,000 will help reestablish freight rail service along a 35-mile segment of the Gloster Southern Railroad. The two awards totaling $230,435,333 were made possible by yearly appropriations and the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, which Wicker helped negotiate as the lead Republican on the Senate Commerce Committee.
"I am thrilled to announce this $178.4 million federal grant to restore passenger rail service along the Mississippi Gulf Coast. This is a significant milestone, representing years of dedicated efforts to reconnect our communities after the devastation of Hurricane Katrina. Restoring passenger rail service will create jobs, improve quality of life, and offer a convenient travel option for tourists, contributing to our region's economic growth and vitality. I appreciate the work of all who have worked tirelessly to bring this project to this point. I look forward to getting this plan across the finish line in the near future with the support of our state and local officials,” Wicker said.
“The $52 million award for the Gloster Southern Railroad is another major win for the state of Mississippi. This rail line will support business development in the area, and it is exactly the kind of hard infrastructure investment that is necessary for economic growth,” Wicker added.
John Robert Smith, chairman of Transportation for America and former mayor of Meridian, also commented on the award, “For nearly a decade, Senator Wicker has been instrumental in the effort to bring passenger rail to the Gulf Coast. We applaud him for his leadership in creating this source of federal funds to expand and improve our nation’s rail networks. We’re now on the cusp of seeing that dream become reality for the people of the Coastal South.”
Southern Rail Commissioner Knox Ross said, “The Southern Rail Commission is excited to see the years of work by all of our partners culminate in the CRISI grant award. This does not happen without the tireless work of Senator Wicker and his staff’s leadership in establishing this grant program, and his leadership on the Commerce Committee. There are so many federal, state, and local leaders that have played indispensable roles in today’s announcement. We look forward to starting this service very soon and doing our part to keep the Mississippi Coast as a premiere vacation and business destination.”
Senator Wicker has been a strong advocate for restoring passenger rail service to the Mississippi Gulf Coast, bringing together federal, state, and local officials to support investments along the southern rail corridor and to address regulatory concerns with restoring passenger service.
In 2015, he led the effort to create and fund the Gulf Coast Working Group which provided a report with input from the Federal Railroad Administration, Amtrak, the Southern Rail Commission, CSX, and local communities along the proposed route.
In 2016, Wicker joined a group of officials on an inspection trip to examine existing infrastructure and the opportunities that intercity rail service could provide to the area. The trip, which began in New Orleans, made several stops in Mississippi before continuing on to Florida. Those stops included Bay St. Louis, Gulfport, Biloxi, and Pascagoula.
In 2019, Wicker announced the award of $33 million from the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) to fund major infrastructure and capacity improvements along the Gulf Coast.
In 2020, members of the Mississippi congressional delegation, including Wicker, announced a $5.45 million grant to support operating costs for the first three years of passenger rail service along the Gulf Coast.
In 2021, Wicker shared his strong support for restoration of passenger rail service along the Gulf Coast in a letter sent to the chairman of the Surface Transportation Board (STB). The STB, which is an independent federal agency that oversees railroads, was considering a petition from Amtrak to restore service along the route.
In 2022, Wicker praised an agreement between Amtrak and other stakeholders along the route to restore passenger rail service between New Orleans and Mobile.