Amtrak Plans to Launch Rail Service from Baton Rouge to New Orleans

The Governor of Louisiana, Louisiana’s Department of Transportation and Development (DODT) and Amtrak have signed a service development agreement to advance the return of an intercity passenger rail service between Baton Rouge and New Orleans.

The agreement was signed at the New Orleans Union Passenger Terminal, marking a breakthrough for the project, which has been ongoing since 2008.

According to the agreement, passenger service on this route could start as early as 2027.

The project envisions twice daily trips with stops in Baton Rouge downtown and the Health District in Baton Rouge, Gonzales, LaPlace, Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport and the Union Passenger Terminal
Gov. John Bel Edwards said:

“An Amtrak line connecting Louisiana’s capital to the largest metropolitan area in the state will have immense economic benefits for both cities and the parishes in between. Not only will this service potentially reduce the number of vehicles on the roadways which will result in less congestion, but it will also connect communities through employment opportunities and allow for more transportation options for festivals, sporting events, and concerts.”

Passenger rail services to Baton Rouge ceased in 1969, prior to Amtrak commencing operations in 1971.

By relaunching a service, Amtrak aims to provide a reliable and safe alternative to driving to help improve environmental quality and congestion issues and promote economic development.

Amtrak Chief Executive Officer Stephen Gardner said:

“Baton Rouge lost passenger rail service in 1969, two years before Amtrak began. This is a step toward correcting a gap in the Amtrak National Network that is more than 54 years old.

“Amtrak is working with states and others across the nation to have a route map that reflects where the population has grown and where people want to travel. In poll after poll, here in Louisiana and nationally, when given the option to take a train rather than drive, the public wants Amtrak and passenger trains as a travel choice.”

The planned route is scheduled to take 75-90 minutes and will serve the following stations:

  • Baton Rouge Downtown
  • Baton Rouge South
  • Gonzales
  • LaPlace
  • New Orleans Int’l Airport
  • Jefferson Parish (TBD)
  • New Orleans Union Passenger Terminal

Initially, Amtrak plans to offer one daily round trip on the new route before expanding to two round trips daily after an evaluation of operations and the completion of potential railroad improvements.

Throughout operations, Amtrak trains will travel on existing tracks owned by Canadian Pacific Kansas City (CPKC) and CN Railway.

These tracks run along the I-10 corridor and are one of three routes that connect New Orleans and Baton Rouge. They were chosen as the most direct option and because they have less conflict with freight transportation.

Infrastructure upgrades on this route will begin in 2024. Work is expected to include the replacement of the existing CPKC rail bridge across the Bonnet CarreSpillway near Airline Highway.

DODT Sec. Eric Kalivoda said:

“This project is just one of many ways Louisiana infrastructure is moving forward to create a better quality of life for our residents. This will serve commuters and also expand tourism opportunities by providing a safe, reliable transportation system for our many visitors.”

This new route will also connect to the New Orleans to Mobile corridor projected to open in 2024.

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