Lawmakers push to expand Amtrak service across Tennessee

Powell is looking to create the train travel caucus, a bi-partisan group of house and senate members, to help link all major cities in the state with stations in multiple communities.
Powell is looking to create the train travel caucus, a bi-partisan group of house and senate members, to help link all major cities in the state with stations i
Published: Feb. 22, 2022 at 1:14 PM EST|Updated: Feb. 22, 2022 at 4:43 PM EST
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NASHVILLE, TN (WSMV/WVLT) – A new push is to bring Amtrak service to Nashville.

One state representative proposes the creation of a train travel caucus. The goal is to expand passenger rail across the state—something Nashville hasn’t had since the late 70s.

“Amtrak itself has said the southeast corridor is critical to the future expansions, so let’s make Nashville the centerpiece of that,” Rep. Jason Powell, D-Nashville, said.

Powell is looking to create the train travel caucus, a bi-partisan group of house and senate members, to help link all major cities in the state with stations in multiple communities.

“If we could get Knoxville, Memphis, other cities and towns along the way. We’ve got this new mega-site that could be one of the stops on the way to Memphis,” Powell said. “If we get multiple legislators engaged to say that we are embracing and we want passenger rail across the state of Tennessee I think that’s going to be critical for us.”

Right now, the state’s only Amtrak service runs through west Tennessee, with stops in Memphis and Newbern. Powell points out that Nashville is the third-largest city in the United States without passenger rail, but an Amtrak proposal would draw a line from Atlanta to Music City.

“Clearly, the line that’s being proposed is going to benefit Nashville,” Powell said. “But it’s also going to benefit. It’s going to stop in Murfreesboro. It’s going to stop in Tullahoma. There’s a stop in Chattanooga.”

An advisory committee would study the feasibility, cost, and infrastructure of expanding the service. The bill calls for creating a Tennessee agency of rail and public transportation.

“The proposal as it currently exists and showing that it’s going to be roughly $500 million a year economic impact for the entire region can you imagine how big this would be for the state of Tennessee if we expand that,” Powell said.

As for how it would be funded, Powell pointed to the $1 trillion infrastructure plan approved by congress. He said $66 billion is set for passenger rail. Still, we may have to compete with other areas interested in a passenger rail for that money.

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