Marks: Amtrak Inspection Of Local Train Station Went Well, Will Help Get Funds

Apr 27, 2016

In late February, Chipley residents line up to greet Amtrak officials as the company considers restoring the rail passenger service to North Florida. It's next stop was Tallahassee.
Credit City of Tallahassee

Amtrak inspected Tallahassee’s train station Wednesday. The inspection is part of an effort to get Congress to fully fund getting the passenger rail service to come back to Tallahassee.

Back in February, Tallahassee’s train station drew a big crowd, when Amtrak officials stopped in the Capital City to gauge support for restoring the service.

Lawyer Stephen Knight says the train is a great alternative mode of transportation.

“Well, I’m very excited because I travel a lot and it would be easier, instead of driving to take the train and have the pleasure,” he said, at the time. “When I got here, the train was here. I didn’t get the chance to take it then and I regret it. So, to have an option in Tallahassee more than an expensive plane, it’s a great thing. So, we’re really looking forward to the possibility.”

The rail service is expected to run from New Orleans, Louisiana to Orlando, Florida. And, Knight says he’s already got some places in mind he’d like to travel to.

“Well, I would go to Jacksonville for sure and depending on where it goes…Jacksonville, Orlando, and Tampa are the main areas I would definitely take it,” he added.

But, before that can happen, supporters say federal funding is crucial to returning the rail service to Tallahassee. As a member of the Gulf Coast Rail Working Group, former Tallahassee Mayor John Marks says he’s trying to make that happen.

“Congress has already determined that Amtrak service should come to the Tallahassee all along the Gulf Coast. That determination has been made,” said Marks. “The other part of it—the money to do that—has not been made as of yet. And, the inspections and these kinds of things are happening at each one of the rail road terminals, including Jacksonville, Tallahassee, Pensacola, Mobile, and all the way over to New Orleans. All of the stations are being inspected to determine what may be needed and what may be needed to make sure that services are available in those locations.”

So, when Amtrak officials stopped in Tallahassee for Wednesday’s inspection, Marks says it went well.

“They looked at our station and gave it a good look at, if you will, to make a determination if there’s anything needed to provide service in the city of Tallahassee,” he added. “And, the results, I think, was very good. Now, we have to go to the other stations and see what’s happening. And, the reason for that is because we want to make sure that the appropriations that we have to get from Congress…they need a number. But, they need this information in order to get to that number.”

Mark says in addition to congressional funds, local governments and the state will have to chip in as well.

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