The 97th Congress adopted P. L. 97-213 which enabled the formation of an Interstate Rail Compact.
• Approved by Louisiana, Mississippi & Alabama legislatures
• Allows contiguous states to become members
The Louisiana-Mississippi-Alabama Rapid Rail Transit Commission is formed.
Commission undertakes feasibility study for proposed commuter service linking New Orleans to Baton Rouge, Slidell and Mobile in anticipation of World’s Fair.
The Gulf Coast Limited service begins operation during the 1984 World's Fair in New Orleans carrying hundreds of passengers a day during the 8-month long exhibition. The line ran between New Orleans, Louisiana and Mobile, Alabama. It was funded by Alabama, Mississippi and Louisiana and ceased operation in January 1985.
1985 to 1993
No passenger rail service.
Rail Commissioners proposed the “Sunbelt Corridor” crossing North Louisiana, central Mississippi and central Alabama. Amtrak conducted a favorable route evaluation contingent upon contract to carry mail for US Postal Service which was never secured.
City of New Orleans grants funds to Rail Commission to conduct feasibility study for rail service between New Orleans and the Mississippi Gulf Coast and between Baton Rouge and New Orleans. The New Orleans Regional Rail Transit Program identified alternative alignments and operating scenarios.
Alabama Rail Transit Commission secured agreement with National Railroad Passenger Corporation to split the Amtrak southbound Crescent at Birmingham – called Gulf Breeze.
The Southern Rail Commission successfully negotiated the extension of the historic Sunset Limited Amtrak line to from Los Angeles, California to Jacksonville, Florida via New Orleans — creating the first truly transcontinental rail line in American history.
The Sunset Limited service to Miami is discontinued.
The Sunset Limited service is extended to Orlando, Florida.
The Southern Rail Commission worked with Congressional Delegations to designate the Gulf Coast Corridor as part of the FRA High-Speed Network, included in the TEA-21 reauthorization.
Hurricane Katrina devastates the transportation infrastructure of the Gulf Coast.
The Southern Rail Commission completes comprehensive passenger rail corridor plans that included route selection, capital improvements, operating plans, simulation modeling, ridership forecasts, costs estimates, and environmental history.
• Mobile, Alabama to New Orleans, Louisiana
• Lake Charles, Louisiana to Meridian, Mississippi
CSX restores freight service; passenger rail service remains suspended.
Amtrak submits Gulf Coast Service Plan Report to Congress
The Southern Rail Commission hosted the “Bring Back Amtrak” public event in Tallahasse, Florida and sponsored the “Gulf Coast Passenger Rail Summit” in Mobile, Alabama.
The Southern Rail Commission drafted letters from all "on-route" mayors to Federal legislators and Committees in charge of rail encouraging them to restore gulf coast passenger rail operations to a daily level of service. Additionally, the SRC drafted resolutions for Mississippi, Alabama and Florida TPOs/RPOs to restore gulf coast passenger rail operations to a daily level of service.
The Southern Rail Commission created a new strategic plan and corporate branding to signify a renewed commitment to advocate for comprehensive passenger rail in the Southeast United States.
The Southern Rail Commission submitted an application to the U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) for $1,016,000 in TIGER funding. The funding would support a $1,270,000 planning project to assess the feasibility of and intermodal needs for restoring suspended intercity passenger rail operations to a daily service level along the Gulf Coast.
The Southern Rail Commission conducts an "inspection train tour" along the Gulf Coast, stopping at 13 stations between New Orleans and Jacksonville. The tour served to examine existing infrastructure and better understand the economic, cultural and mobility opportunities that intercity passenger rail provides. More than 300 national, state, and local elected officials, industry representatives, and community stakeholders rode the train, which was greeted by thousands of passenger rail advocates enthusiastic about the return of service to their communities.
The FRA's Gulf Coast Working Group (GCWG) submits its final report to Congress. Convened following Congressional passage of the Fixing America's Surface Transportation Act (or FAST Act) in 2015, the GCWG's mission was to plan for and recommend capital and operating solutions to restore improved passenger rail service to the Gulf Coast. Chaired by the FRA, the group included members from CSX, Amtrak, the SRC, and local elected officials, state DOTs, MPOs, businesses, and tribes representing interests of communities in Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and Florida.
The final report identified the Orlando and Mobile services as preferred because they outperformed the other options studied by Amtrak in terms of ridership demand and operating funding needs. The report considers and outlines two levels of investment for restored service: minimum restoration equivalent to the Sunset Limited's level of operation, and improved service that would allow for reduced trip times and enhanced reliability.
Federal funding becomes available through the FRA's Consolidated Rail Infrastructure and Safety Improvement (CRISI) and Restoration and Enhancement (R&E) grants. The SRC works throughout the year to encourage and support its member states in submitting applications for this funding, which is particularly well suited for Gulf Coast passenger rail.