GOP senator moves to study restoration of lost Amtrak service

Sen. Roger Wicker (R-Miss.) is moving to test the feasibility of restoring Amtrak service on the Gulf Coast between New Orleans and Florida that has been dormant since Hurricane Katrina 10 years ago. 

Trains on Amtrak's Sunset Limited route, which used to run between Los Angeles and Orlando, have ended in New Orleans since the 2005 storm, which wiped out tracks along the Gulf of Mexico. 

Wicker said he is forming a new working group to study the return of the dormant Gulf Coast Amtrak service. 

“Today’s announcement marks the first concrete step in bringing back passenger rail service to the Gulf Coast,” Wicker said in a statement. "Passenger rail is an essential part of our national transportation network. Restoring this service along the Coast could have a monumental impact on the region’s economic development, as well as Mississippians’ quality of life.”

Amtrak is planning to operate a test train on the route, which includes stops in Alabama and the panhandle of Florida before it heads south to Orlando, to examine the feasibility of restoring the service, this week. 

The train will run from New Orleans to Orlando on Thursday and Friday with Amtrak leaders and elected officials, according to Amtrak officials.