Amtrak is set to collaborate with the Southern Rail Commission (SRC) to apply for federal funds to carry out a study on new rail service along Interstate 20 (I-20) in the US.

The study will assess the possibility of a new service between New York City, Atlanta and Dallas/Fort Worth.

This will be done by expanding a section of the Amtrak Crescent route from Meridian across Mississippi and Louisiana to Texas along I-20, stated Amtrak.

Amtrak will join forces with the SRC and others to secure federal capital and operating support to begin the service if the study is funded under the US Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) Federal-State Partnership Programme.

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The partnership will also depend on the generation of a sufficient business case for a direct connection between the Northeast Corridor and fast-growing areas in the south and west.

Amtrak stated that it set ‘the stage for such a study in an agreement with Canadian Pacific Railway (CP), which has acquired the route (subject to regulatory approval)’.

Other parties include Norfolk Southern Railway, which shares the ownership of the line with Kansas City Southern (KCS). Amtrak has supported the combination of CP with KCS.

The earlier agreement between CP and Amtrak will enable a future service on a route owned by KCS between New Orleans and Baton Rouge.

Amtrak network development vice-president Nicole Bucich said: “As the entity responsible for providing the nation’s long-distance intercity passenger rail service, Amtrak will work with our partners to seek the funds needed to study expansion and improvement options where strong stakeholder support exists and initial analysis show opportunity.

“With the encouragement and support of federal, state and local officials, this application is the first step in determining the feasibility of this concept and the benefits and challenges, including federal funding commitments, of expanding Amtrak service to the I-20 route.”