Money For Station Upgrades Awarded For Gulf Coast Train Plan

BAY ST. LOUIS, Miss. (AP) — Three Mississippi cities and Birmingham, Alabama have been awarded grants to improve their train stations ahead of the planned return of Amtrak service to the Gulf Coast.

Bay St. Louis, Gulfport and Pascagoula received a little more than $700,000 total, and another $250,000 went to Birmingham, the Biloxi Sun Herald reported. The newspaper said the grants were announced on Monday by the Southern Rail Commission.

The money will fund improvements to amenities such as lighting, sidewalks and parking areas. The grants require an equivalent matching contribution from local officials.

Amtrak hopes to resume operating between New Orleans and Mobile, Alabama in January. The region has been without passenger service since Hurricane Katrina badly damaged tracks and equipment in 2005. Before that, passenger trains ran between the two cities three times a week.

The start of service is still pending a decision by the federal Surface Transportation Board on Amtrak’s right of access to freight lines.