In 2005, there weren’t many passenger trains rolling from Florida to New Orleans -- just three a week in each direction.
Now there are none.
On Aug. 29, 2005, Hurricane Katrina washed away swaths of rail along the Gulf Coast owned by CSX. Amtrak used those tracks for the last stretch of the Sunset Limited service mostly for passengers going to, or coming from, as far off as Los Angeles. After the storm, Amtrak suspended -- though it did not officially cancel -- the Gulf Coast portion of the route. Seven years later, Mayors from New Orleans to the Florida panhandle are plotting how to bring back the trains, and add new ones.
At present, communities along the Gulf are bracing for Hurricane Issac, expected to make landfall this evening, but earlier this month, More than 40 mayors gathered in Mobile, Alabama to hear from Amtrak what they need to do to get trains rolling.