- Associated Press - Thursday, March 24, 2016

BILOXI, Miss. (AP) - Five weeks ago, an Amtrak inspection train rolled across South Mississippi for the first time since Hurricane Katrina.

On Wednesday, officials met in Biloxi to move forward plans of restoring passenger rail service across the Gulf Coast, The Sun Herald (http://bit.ly/1Uc0OQn) reported.

Officials from CSX, U.S. Sen. Roger Wicker’s office, the Federal Railway Administration and the states and cities met to get a report concerning the project to Congress by the Sept. 4 deadline.

Mark Murphy, general manager of long distance service for Amtrak, said lawmakers want to see a preferred route, what infrastructure and repairs are needed to operate, the cost of restoring train service and funding sources.

The group suggested a daily round-trip train from New Orleans through south Mississippi to Mobile, Alabama, and a long-distance train that would connect from New Orleans to Orlando, Florida, through Jacksonville.

“We have to figure it out. There’s an aggressive timeline to do this,” Murphy said. He said the group will continue to meet every month to put together a plan.

Murphy added that the project has the potential to open the community to a tourist market.

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Information from: The Sun Herald, http://www.sunherald.com

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