The battle for Mardi Gras superiority may soon end in a draw, as Amtrak announced on Friday the official plans to run a passenger train from Mobile to New Orleans by 2022.
The announcement came during a video conference between Amtrak and the Southern Railroad Commission on March 5.
Now, when faced with the age-old question of “Mobile for the history, New Orleans for the party?” Mardi Gras celebrators can simply do both by hopping on “The Mardi Gras Express”, cleverly named by Michael Hecht, CEO of GNO–an organization devoted to economic development in New Orleans.
Along the route, passengers traveling between New Orleans and Mobile can also hop off at one of four Mississippi locations:
- Bay St. Louis
Now, for Mobilians, only one question remains: which train station to use?
The Gulf, Mobile, & Ohio terminal is a historic train station currently operating as a greyhound bus staton. Ideally, Amtrak would revive this station and use it once more, picking up and dropping off in the heart of downtown Mobile.
Amtrak operates out of the Union Passenger Terminal in New Orleans, but has no property in Mobile. This has caused issues with current freight stakeholders, CSX and Norfolk Southern, who would prefer the passenger station to be closer to Mobile Downtown Airport at Brookley.
Amtrak’s portion of the deal is in rehabilitation of the train stations to be used along this route, with cities providing parking access. Therefore, construction cannot begin until conflicts between Amtrak and other railroad stakeholders are resolved.
No matter where the station, Mobilians and Orleanians alike are eagerly anticipating the passenger line, the first along the Gulf coast in over 15 years. In just about a year, the Mardi Gras Express will be running from the Port City to the Big Easy, uniting the two Mardi Gras capitals in an exciting way.