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Rail Passengers Statement on Amtrak Seeking I-20 Cooperation

March 10, 2023

Rail Passengers CEO Jim Mathews Statement on Amtrak Seeking Cooperation on I-20 Corridor

Contact: Madison Butler, [email protected]

March 10, 2023

Rail Passengers CEO Jim Mathews Statement on Amtrak Seeking Cooperation on I-20 Corridor

Washington, D.C.—Statement of Rail Passengers Association President Jim Mathews following Amtrak’s confirmation of its intention to apply for Federal support to advance new service on the I-20 Corridor:

"We’re thrilled to hear this very welcome development about an expansion that is long, long overdue. As CEO of the Rail Passengers Association, I’d like to formally congratulate Amtrak for taking this step, and to recognize the hard behind-the-scenes work done by the Southern Rail Commission and Transportation for America carrying the flag for this sort of expansion nationwide. It is hard to overstate the degree to which this really is, in an unfortunately over-used phrase, a ‘game-changer.’

For half a century, the American people – speaking through their elected representatives in the Congress – have consistently, year after year after year, sought to promote and expand passenger rail in our country, through creating Amtrak in 1971 to strengthen struggling rail carriers by relieving them of their long-standing common-carrier obligations, and most recently through providing historic levels of funding for Amtrak intercity passenger rail development and related investments in host railroad infrastructure.

Americans want more and better trains, stopping in more places and serving more people.

I’m especially gratified to see Amtrak heeding the inspiring calls from both Republicans and Democrats about the vital role new passenger trains can play in our country. Our professional staff here at the Association has worked for many years with Senators, members of Congress, and their staffs and we’ve seen how much support there is for an Amtrak service for all Americans and not just those on the Northeast Corridor. Congress’ message in the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law was crystal clear: we don’t need to abandon rural and low-population communities to economic stagnation, disconnected from the rest of the country. As a great Nation, we have enough wealth to connect all lower 48 states to a functional passenger rail network that returns many multiples of economic benefit to the communities it serves.

I’d like to congratulate the Southern Rail Commission members and chairs, past and present, but especially my friend, your current Chairman, Knox Ross, for SRC’s relentless determination to bring passenger rail’s benefits to Americans everywhere. And former Meridian Mayor and Amtrak Chair John Robert Smith and the Transportation for America staff, too, who have been quietly laying the groundwork for years to get us all to this point. It's also vital to recognize the importance of grassroots volunteers who tirelessly, and often under tremendous adversity, patiently worked to build support among local elected and appointed officials. In particular, the I-20 Corridor Council, ably represented by Christina Anderson and her husband Judge Richard Anderson, deseve special thanks. Lastly, Senator Roger Wicker and Senator Bill Cassidy deserve recognition for their rock-steady leadership and vision which has led us to today’s announcement.

Rail Passengers has been proud of our partnership with T4A, the Southern Rail Commission, Senator Wicker’s office, and many other key congressional offices, to advance our vision of a Connected America. We stand ready to help this vital project take the next step.”


About Rail Passengers Association

The Rail Passengers Association is the oldest and largest national organization serving as a voice for the more than 40 million rail passengers in the U.S. Our mission is to improve and expand conventional intercity and regional passenger train services, support higher speed rail initiatives, increase connectivity among all forms of transportation and ensure safety for our country's trains and passengers. All of this makes communities safer, more accessible, and more productive, improving the lives of everyone who lives, works, and plays in towns all across America.