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mr. bernham

Gulf Coast Megaregion and BRNO Super Region

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Baton Rouge business community working to help New Orleans airport attract nonstop international flight    

An effort by New Orleans business leaders to secure nonstop air service on British Airways between London’s Heathrow Airport and Louis Armstrong International Airport has come up short. San Jose, California, beat out the Crescent City for British Airways’ newest international route. However, business leaders say the decision was merely a setback and that discussions with the airline are ongoing.

“We were disappointed because we would have liked to have had that flight as early as 2016,” says GNO Inc. President Michael Hecht. “But we are still very much in the running for a future flight and we continue to be in regular contact with BA.”

Baton Rouge business leaders working through the Super Region committee were supportive of efforts to secure the international air service and have been playing an important role in helping New Orleans try to attract additional flights. The entire region would benefit from the increased air service, and New Orleans alone, even with its robust tourism industry, isn’t large enough to secure a nonstop, international flight.

“It’s a top civic and business priority here in New Orleans and the Baton Rouge business community is working with us and we will continue to push,” says Transoceanic Development CEO Gregory Rusovich, who is chairman of the Louisiana Board of International Commerce and has been active in the negotiations with British Airways. “New Orleans and Baton Rouge together are a force, and when you throw in the entire Gulf Coast region we’re really a formidable force.”

While New Orleans and Baton Rouge jointly make a more attractive market than either city individually, the area doesn’t have as much business activity as San Jose, which is why it lost out to the Silicon Valley city in the quest to secure the British Airways flight.

“If you’re looking at the markets, they felt the business market there was more developed today, while the business market in southeast Louisiana is developing,” Hecht says. “I think there is a timing thing but we know that our numbers were very favorable for a flight.”

Both Hecht and Rusovich say they are optimistic they could ink a deal with British Airways for flight service beginning in 2017 or 2018. Additionally, they are in talks with at least one other international airline for nonstop service to another European city.

As Business Report recently detailed in its “Executive Flight” cover story, limited air service in southeast Louisiana is an economic development issue. Companies have relocated their headquarters to markets with better air service, including Albemarle, which is moving to Charlotte, North Carolina.   https://www.businessreport.com/article/baton-rouge-business-community-working-help-new-orleans-airport-attract-nonstop-international-flight

 
 
 
 

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Baton Rouge Business community need to start working with Baton Rouge Metro Airport to add more non stop flights. Baton Rouge need to look out for Baton Rouge first before it help another city airport.  Never see Baton Rouge business community focusing on make Baton Rouge better that should be the focus at this point.

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Baton Rouge Business community need to start working with Baton Rouge Metro Airport to add more non stop flights. Baton Rouge need to look out for Baton Rouge first before it help another city airport.  Never see Baton Rouge business community focusing on make Baton Rouge better that should be the focus at this point.

It helps us if New Orleans is an actual International Airport. Though a massive airport between us would be great...just where do we get money for it?

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It helps us if New Orleans is an actual International Airport. Though a massive airport between us would be great...just where do we get money for it?

My problem is not them helping New Orleans Airport my point is why they not help Baton Rouge Airport add more flights.  It would be nice to have just one big airport in the middle, but that never will happen just  gotta be like New York, Chicago, Houston and have 2 airports. New Orleans bigger and Baton Rouge middle size airport, but we need more direct flights and at least one international flight to make Baton Rouge airport great.

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Proponents of Baton Rouge-New Orleans rail line have five-point plan for next governor to make service a reality in first term   

John Spain kicked off this morning’s Smart Growth Summit panel discussion on the long-proposed passenger rail line between Baton Rouge and New Orleans with a simple question: “If the train were running today, how many of you would be riding it?”

The hand of nearly every single one of the roughly 70 people in attendance shot up.

“We’re going to have a good morning,” said a smiling Spain, executive vice president of the Baton Rouge Area Foundation and vice chair of the Southern Rail Commission.

The reaction from the audience reflects the broad public support for the rail line, but the panel discussion that followed Spain’s opening remarks made clear it will take a lot more than a public consensus to make passenger rail service between Louisiana’s two largest metro areas a reality.

“The next step is really to have the new governor buy into this project,” said Kristin Gisleson Palmer, chair of the Louisiana Super Region Rail Authority, who was joined on the panel by SRC Chair Greg White and Knox Ross, SRC secretary and treasurer.

To that end, the SRC recently compiled a five-step plan for the next governor to bring the rail line to fruition. Both Republican David Vitter and Democrat John Bel Edwards, who are in the Nov. 21 runoff election to be the next governor, have voiced support for the rail line in vague terms at a forum during the campaigns, though they have indicated the extent of their support will be determined by funding and other details.

“We have given a playbook to the next governor to put the rail line into service during his first term in office,” said Palmer, “and we believe it’s possible.”

The playbook, released by SRC in September, outlines five steps needed to establish the rail service: Designating funding for any needed capital expenses and operating support; plan the service; negotiate an operating agreement with the railroad companies that own the tracks on which the passenger train would traverse; complete the capital work needed, such as terminals and infrastructure improvements; and prepare for the service launch in connection with the host railroads.

A feasibility study unveiled in February last year identified roughly $262 million in capital improvements needed to support a rail service traveling at up to 79 miles per hour. The most expensive improvement needed is a new 1.8-mile bridge over the Bonnet Carré Spillway, which would cost an estimated $62 million. In its current condition, the wooden bridge restricts trains to travel across at just 10 mph. Other improvements needed include new bridges, signals, crossings and track work.

The feasibility study outlines several options for funding and financing the needed capital improvements, as well as the estimated $6.78 million required to fund annual operations of the rail service. Among the suggestions is raising the statewide gas tax by a half cent per gallon, tacking on an additional 1% rental car tax in the seven parishes along the line, increasing the hotel tax levied in the seven parishes by 1% and assessing a 3% “value capture” tax on properties within a half mile of the line.

“None of these approaches should be considered in isolation,” reads the five-step plan. “A combination of these mechanisms and a partnership between the state and local governments would be the most robust and sustainable approach.”

Between rail hubs in Baton Rouge and New Orleans, five stops are envisioned for the line: one in Baton Rouge in the area around the Mall of Louisiana and planned Medical District; Gonzales; LaPlace; suburban Kenner; and one in Jefferson Parish.

Negotiating an operating agreement with Kansas City Southern, which owns about 66.5 miles of track on the proposed route, as well as Canadian National Railroad, which owns 7.5 miles near New Orleans, is key to bringing the service to fruition. As the five-point plan notes, “KCS has indicated that they do not wish to engage in future conversations or invest further resources in this project without a clear indication that it has necessary support from the governor and committed funding.”

While KCS and CNR could prove to be significant barriers to the rail service, Spain said following the panel discussion that they cannot single-handedly halt the service if Amtrak is contracted to provide the service.

“They can’t say no as long as we use Amtrak,” said Spain, noting a U.S. statute that gives the government-funded agency the authority to operate passenger rail service on all freight railroads as long as it compensates the railroad for incremental costs for the service. “They can make it expensive, but they can’t stop it.”

The two-day Smart Growth Summit, presented by the Center for Planning Excellence, concludes today with a keynote address by U.S. Department of Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx at 3 p.m. Among the events on Monday, former King County, Washington, Executive Ron Sims called for an expansion of green space to attract and retain talent and businesses, and a panel discussion took place on the financial benefits on green building      https://www.businessreport.com/article/proponents-baton-rouge-new-orleans-rail-line-five-point-plan-next-governor-make-service-reality-first-term

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A rail line road map: Advocates of the proposed Baton Rouge-New Orleans rail line have a plan for the next governor             

When either John Bel Edwards or David Vitter takes office as Louisiana’s governor next year, among the issues he’ll have to address is the long-awaited intercity rail line that would provide passenger service between Baton Rouge and New Orleans.

At a recent forum on the subject at the Center for Planning Excellence Smart Growth Summit, leaders involved in the project made clear that the passenger rail line won’t happen without a swift and firm commitment from the state’s new leader.

“The next step is really to have the new governor buy into this project,” said Kristin Gisleson Palmer, chair of the Louisiana Super Region Rail Authority.

To that end, the Southern Rail Commission, which has been spearheading the project for the past several years, recently compiled a five-step plan for the next governor to bring the rail line to fruition. The plan is detailed and ambitious, suggesting the service could actually be up and running as soon as the end of the governor’s first term. It also calls for strong leadership and makes clear the next governor will have his work cut out for him.

“We have given a playbook to the next governor to put the rail line into service during his first term in office,” Palmer said. “We believe it’s possible.”

Here are highlights of the plan:

1) Designate funding for operating and capital needs.

Some $262 million in capital improvements have been identified, while annual operating expenses are estimated at nearly $6.8 million. Possible sources for the capital costs include a combination of federal grants, state and local funding and the freight railroads.

Potential sources of operating funds include:

  • Increasing the statewide gas tax by a half cent per gallon
  • Assessing an additional 1% rental car tax in the parishes along the proposed line
  • Assessing an additional 1% hotel tax in those parishes

2) Plan the service.

Work with freight operators to reassess current capacity needs and negotiate capital improvements necessary to accommodate freight and passenger service. Conduct a capacity study to consider how intercity passenger rail service will impact freight movement on the corridor. Agree upon a service level.

3) Negotiate an operating agreement.

The five-step plan advocates working through Amtrak to negotiate agreements with the host railroads that own the 80 miles of tracks the intercity rail would use. There are three: Kansas City Southern, Canadian National Railroad and the New Orleans Building Corp.

By federal law, Amtrak has access to operate passenger rail service on any freight railroad. So while KCS and CN could prove to be barriers to the rail service, they cannot single-handedly halt the service if Amtrak is contracted to provide the service.

4) Conduct capital work.

There are five types of capital projects: stations, structure, site and track work, grade crossings and signals. The single biggest project along the 80-mile corridor is the replacement of the 1.8-mile Bonnet Carre Spillway Bridge, which would cost approximately $62 million. An additional $110 million in site and track upgrades are needed.

5) Prepare for service.

Once funding is identified, an operator is chosen and operating agreements are in place, the operator can begin preparing for service in connection with the host railroads. Employees then must be hired and trained.

https://www.businessreport.com/business/rail-line-road-map-advocates-proposed-baton-rouge-new-orleans-rail-line-plan-next-governor

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Are these trains going to be Amtrak trains? That won't attract nearly as much people.

Base on the article its going to be Amtrak. I hope they have a plan for regional transit as well. 

Edited by greg225

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Base on the article its going to be Amtrak. I hope they have a plan for regional transit as well. 

They'll likely be diesel Amtraks.  Some Amtrak diesels can go well over 110mph in the northeast.....but more often than not, their service quality is crap outside that region and they are forced to yield to freight traffic. 

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Yeah...if it's gonna be Amtrak we just need to stop this. Amtrak is crap, at least we would be upgraded to 'high speed rail' if they ever did it. Though personally I think Maglev is the future.

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John Bel Edwards says he will do 'everything' to get light rail from New Orleans to Baton Rouge                        Gov.-elect John Bel Edwards wants to start working with federal officials to establish a passenger rail line between New Orleans and Baton Rouge -- a project Gov. Bobby Jindal refused to support

"I am going to do everything I can to partner with folks in Washington to make sure that as soon as possible we can pursue light rail," said Edwards at a New Orleans Chamber of Commerce lunch meeting Friday (Dec. 18). 

The comment drew lots of applause from the business-oriented crowd. Industry leaders and local officials in New Orleans, Baton Rouge and several other local parishes have wanted to pursue passenger rail for years. But the federal government wouldn't consider putting funding toward the project because of Jindal's opposition to the idea.

Edwards -- like many in the business community -- believes the rail project would boost economic development in South Louisiana. Instead of having Baton Rouge and New Orleans compete for business entities, the two cities would be connected. Potential employers wouldn't have to choose between one or the other, according to rail supporters.

"It actually allows us to be a super region. I believe that's important for our future," said the governor-elect.  

Starting in 2009, Jindal refused to move forward with an application for $300 million in federal funding for high-speed rail from New Orleans to Baton Rouge. The governor said he couldn't support the project because no plan for the train's operating expenses was in place. 

But critics thought Jindal opposition to the project also had to do with the governor's presidential aspirations. Transit projects like passenger rail are thought to be wasteful by some conservatives. 

"It's a shame that we turned down a lot of federal tax dollars that would have gotten us a long way towards having that as a reality today, but I am going to pursue it just as fast as I can and as responsibly as I can," Edwards told the New Orleans chamber.

State Rep. Walt Leger, D-New Orleans, said he was extremely excited about Edwards' support of rail. Leger has been an ardent backer of the rail project for years. He is also Edwards' pick for House Speaker, meaning the project has a good chance of being a top state legislative priority as well.  

"This makes sense for us today," Leger said at a pro-rail press conference in September. "(It's) the single most important project that can change the face of our region for many years to come."

During the gubernatorial race, all four major candidates expressed some support for the rail project -- though Edwards and Lt. Gov. Jay Dardenne were the most enthusiastic. Dardenne, a Republican, has been named Edwards' chief government administrator, which means the top elected official in Louisiana and the top appointed official both support the project.  http://www.nola.com/politics/index.ssf/2015/12/john_bel_edwards_light_rail.html

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I guess they are saying 90 minutes because of the stops the train will make in between Baton Rouge and New Orleans. Some Countries in Europe use light rail to connect cities, but I'm hoping for a high speed train.

Edited by greg225
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5 hours ago, greg225 said:

I guess they are saying 90 minutes because of the stops the train will make in between Baton Rouge and New Orleans. Some Countries in Europe use light rail to connect cities, but I'm hoping for a high speed train.

No, all countries use highspeed rail to connect city to city. Trust me, I've been.

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35 minutes ago, mr. bernham said:

No, all countries use highspeed rail to connect city to city. Trust me, I've been.

I was watching the amazing race and they were using light rail in some countries in Europe to go from city to city.

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On 11/12/2015 at 0:09 PM, greg225 said:

Base on the article its going to be Amtrak. I hope they have a plan for regional transit as well. 

They can stop at every town if they want.....but if they can offer express, higher speed service between Baton Rouge and New Orleans, I think they could easily expand the line north west towards Alexandria towards Shreveport and help justify the BR-NO train.   They need to offer at least two express trains daily between the two cities, and without having service (even typically slow Amtrak service) between Baton Rouge north towards Shreveport, I'm not sure they will get the traffic needed to justify those trains.   Of course, they'll need multiple lines to offer slower revenue builders with stops at every town without slowing express trains.   Since these routes already have heavy freight traffic, we are looking at adding two more lines (perhaps 3 in some sections).

It's like taking the train from southern Virginia to Boston.   You know that you will be moving slowly until you get to DC, but you make up the time and then some on the high speed portion of the NEC.   A train leaving Alexandria for New Orleans and stopping in Marksville, New Roads, etc. might be as slow or slower than an automobile, but if you easily make up for that on the more focused, higher speed section between Baton Rouge and New Orleans, you are still buying train tickets.

If I'm not being clear, please let me know.   My thesis is that in order to justify high speed, rapid express service between Baton Rouge and New Orleans, it's almost certainly worth it to add traditional Amtrak service (not necessarily high speed) north towards Alexandria and Shreveport with 4-5 other stops to collect enough passengers.....similar to how the slower Keystone line or Empire line collects passengers for the North East Corridor, where trains speed up.    It is also worth it to add additional lines for non-express service between the two cities that stops at Gonzales, LaPlace, Medical corridor, Kenner, etc. so that they don't slow down faster express trains.

Edited by cajun
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Transit planner guest column: Rail for New Orleans, Baton Rouge key to 'accommodating growth for the future' 

A passenger rail between Baton Rouge and New Orleans is about accommodating growth for the future.

 

You can’t cram more vehicles on Interstate 10, except maybe at 2 a.m., if it’s not shut down for a collision. Should Louisiana widen the freeway, build a passenger rail or forget about going anywhere unless your survival depends on it?

 

Here are the numbers: One freeway lane can handle just 750 cars traveling at 70 mph, fewer if there are heavy trucks in the mix. According to the U.S. Census, there is an average of 1.089 people per automobile in Louisiana. This means an interstate is stuck at a maximum of 800 car commuters per hour, per lane, going the speed limit. Interestingly, maximum vehicle flow on a freeway is three times that number but occurs only when everyone is going 35 miles per hour, bumper to bumper.

While the New Orleans-Baton Rouge rail proposal is sketched out to begin with only eight round trips per day, each track in a two-track modern rail system can accommodate at least 12 trains per hour in each direction. Washington and Oregon are following an incremental approach by making continuous improvements to speed and reliability on Amtrak’s Cascades service between Seattle and Portland, where many segments are still single track.

Regardless of speed, train sets can be sized for travel growth, to the 545-seat TGV Duplex or 900-seat Eurostar. Each modern rail track can serve 10,800 passengers per hour, 10,000 people or more than on one freeway lane. Rail transport can accommodate a huge amount of growth over a very long period.

Passenger rail is not about the fantasy of reducing congestion, because as soon as some drivers switch to the train, latent demand from the thousands of motorists who have been staying put because of congestion, crashes and difficult parking, soon fills up the newly available road space.

The only thing proven to reduce congestion is roadway pricing, but that is a whole other topic. Safe, comfortable, reliable and speedy passenger rail would capture a significant portion of today’s latent travel demand on the River Corridor.

 

Ticket prices from Baton Rouge would vary by time of day but would cost a lot less than getting your car towed in New Orleans (or worse) and be comparable to the cost of parking in the French Quarter or the New Orleans Central Business District.

The River Corridor Rail project could also provide much-needed rapid transit within Baton Rouge and New Orleans/Metarie/Kenner. Most major commercial developments in Baton Rouge happen to be located between Perkins Road and I-10 within walking distance of the railway. More projects are being planned and built on that axis every year.

Local service train stations at major cross streets would be served by feeder buses to reach all parts of town. These coordinated layers of public transportation would provide congestion-proof mobility for thousands and make the region more competitive for job-intensive investment.

Employment opportunities would open up for the struggling poor who can’t afford a car needed to work at a good job and make it home in time to cook supper for the family. Passengers on local trains would connect with Baton Rouge-New Orleans express trains at key stations such as Louis Armstrong International Airport.

Blended operation of local and intercity trains is nothing new. Widening four miles of I-10 in Baton Rouge will cost $350 million, which comes to almost $88 million per mile. Modernizing the 80-mile-long rail line all the way to New Orleans with local train stations adjacent to every I-10 exit in Baton Rouge would cost $500 million, or a little over $6 million per mile.

 

Our choices are to condemn property to add hugely expensive freeway lanes that will quickly fill up and only serve 800 passengers per hour, build rail which can grow service almost ad infinitum allowing our economy to grow or continue to stew in the same fumes.

 

Lafayette resident Paul Casey, AICP (American Institute of Certified Planners) was the transit planner for the City of Santa Monica’s Big Blue Bus for 14 years and currently advises the Acadiana Metropolitan Planning Organization and Torrance Transit in Los Angeles on how to increase transit ridership, operate more efficiently and support transit oriented development. http://theadvocate.com/news/opinion/14979270-171/transit-planner-guest-column-rail-for-new-orleans-baton-rouge-key-to-accommodating-growth-for-the-fu

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Lanny Keller: BR to NO commuter train would pioneer Southern passenger rails, bring economic opportunity                         

Maybe the thought of leisurely driving down a six-lane or eight-lane Interstate 10 is  somebody’s idea of fun, but the prospect really ought to inspire people to push harder for a commuter train between Baton Rouge and New Orleans. We need an alternative to highway widening, given that growth will one day make Interstate 10 even more congested than it already is, even with a billion dollar-plus expansion.

 

The costs of establishing a commuter train were to have been borne by the federal government. In the wake of hurricanes Katrina and Rita, it was likely the 2009 economic stimulus package could have provided $300 million or more to upgrade tracks and buy trains for a commuter line. If still a competitive grant, it would have been as close to a slam-dunk as one can imagine, in those circumstances, with a new administration eager to show it was helping Louisiana’s recovery.

 

Fail. The administration of Gov. Bobby Jindal, itching to declare its distance from President Barack Obama, refused to even apply. Despite the long-standing GOP support for passenger rail, the new and radical ideological focus of the Jindal administration overrode common sense.

Today, there remain real costs to establishing a commuter link, but it makes so much sense that the obstacles are likely to be overcome.

“We see a new energy around this project,” Beverly Haydel, of the Baton Rouge Area Foundation, told donors and community leaders at the group’s annual meeting.

A new administration at the State Capitol is eager to show its commitment to the rail project.

“Louisiana will not be left at the station when it comes to passenger rail in this part of the country,” Gov. John Bel Edwards said. “Louisiana will be a leader in reintroducing passenger rail to the Gulf South.”

The governor’s judgment is not a purely political one, although this is a project that has been eagerly sought by the business leadership of his state’s two largest cities. Rather, it is a realistic approach to adding an accessible and affordable daily commute between the cities but also providing another hurricane evacuation route; trains’ passenger counts can be scaled up as needed with additional cars.

 

Multiple studies, from the landmark Louisiana Speaks master plan of 2007 and transit experts since, suggest that the commuter rail is a good idea. It’s particularly so as the New Orleans and Baton Rouge markets grow ever more connected. Growth in the giant petrochemical complex between the two cities is increasing the population between the cities themselves, beyond the suburbanite families in parishes like Ascension.

Opposition to this project is a willful blindness to the change that is going on around us. The nature of work is evolving, and time spent idling behind a wreck on I-10 is wasted; the worker on a train is using her laptop and phone all along the way to the major airports or the business centers in either city.

The notion that a few million in annual subsidies is somehow transit socialism is particularly obtuse. Every form of transportation, even toll roads that are getting a new look in the Baton Rouge area, are subsidized by general taxpayers in multiple ways.

 

Productivity is the economic analysis that matters. A commuter rail link truly is a no-brainer.    http://theadvocate.com/news/opinion/15267813-123/lanny-keller-the-no-trainers-stand-in-the-way-of-a-no-brainer

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I'm skeptical that they can have the riders for a high speed line between NO and BR without typical Amtrak service collecting passengers north of Baton Rouge....either out towards Natchez or Alexandria and Shreveport. 

Imagine getting on a train in Alexandria and taking it to Baton Rouge, where you stop for 15 minutes while they collect local passengers and switch from a diesel to an electric high speed engine.    Then you cover the distance from BR to NO in 30 minutes or less at high speeds on an express non-stop train or 60 minutes on a local service train that stops in Gonzales and LaPlace.    That means passengers from Alexandria, Marksville, New Roads, Morganza, and towns along the line up to Shreveport will help justify the high speed line between Baton Rouge and New Orleans. 

New Orleans supports it because it makes the city a hub for rail traffic.  Baton Rouge supports it because they get new service to downtown and Scotlandville (which can tie into the airport via shuttle).   Shreveport and Alexandria back it because it offers them connections to the capital city and New Orleans.  Politically it's a stronger proposal than a dead end high speed line in Baton Rouge, and economically it helps justify the costs of the high speed line between BR and NO.

Edited by cajun

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5 hours ago, cajun said:

I'm skeptical that they can have the riders for a high speed line between NO and BR without typical Amtrak service collecting passengers north of Baton Rouge....either out towards Natchez or Alexandria and Shreveport. 

Imagine getting on a train in Alexandria and taking it to Baton Rouge, where you stop for 15 minutes while they collect local passengers and switch from a diesel to an electric high speed engine.    Then you cover the distance from BR to NO in 30 minutes or less at high speeds on an express non-stop train or 60 minutes on a local service train that stops in Gonzales and LaPlace.    That means passengers from Alexandria, Marksville, New Roads, Morganza, and towns along the line up to Shreveport will help justify the high speed line between Baton Rouge and New Orleans. 

New Orleans supports it because it makes the city a hub for rail traffic.  Baton Rouge supports it because they get new service to downtown and Scotlandville (which can tie into the airport via shuttle).   Shreveport and Alexandria back it because it offers them connections to the capital city and New Orleans.  Politically it's a stronger proposal than a dead end high speed line in Baton Rouge, and economically it helps justify the costs of the high speed line between BR and NO.

Why not Lafayette and Lake Charles? Cities that's actually growing and has more people who could afford to use it.

I don't know about current rail infrastructure or if I'm missing something else but it seems alot more lucrative than Alexandria and Shreveport. 

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On 3/25/2016 at 9:37 PM, Antrell Williams said:

Why not Lafayette and Lake Charles? Cities that's actually growing and has more people who could afford to use it.

I don't know about current rail infrastructure or if I'm missing something else but it seems alot more lucrative than Alexandria and Shreveport. 

Lafayette and Lake Charles already have rail service with the Sunset Limited, and it doesn't go through Baton Rouge.    Also, Amtrak tickets are historically very cheap...more competitive to buses than air travel.   It's not a premium product.   The target market outside the Baton Rouge-New Orleans high speed corridor is small town people with limited income in an area not well served by alternative routes to New Orleans or Baton Rouge (such as direct bus or air service, or easy access to freeways).  

Baton Rouge, Alexandria, Shreveport, and everywhere in between don't have rail service or even a reasonable interstate connection to Baton Rouge.    Every stop they add on that route would bring in new customers to Amtrak.   Remember that trains don't take much effort to stop and load passengers, so adding collection points at smaller towns is not expensive.   It's basically the cost of a rail platform - which these local governments would happily pay and maintain for even once daily service into Baton Rouge and New Orleans.   

The benefits of this is threefold: 

1.  A route into Shreveport could eventually connect to Longview, Tyler, and Dallas/Ft. Worth.   That's yet another route that doesn't currently have service anywhere.   Dallas - New Orleans is an entirely new route for Amtrak and brings Shreveport and Baton Rouge into their network.     Also, the line that crosses the river in Baton Rouge is north of downtown anyways passing very close to both Southern University and the Baton Rouge airport - both of which could be served by one stop along an existing line in conjunction with shuttle vans. 

2.  Politically speaking.....Voters and politicians from New Orleans to Gonzales to Baton Rouge to New Roads to Simmsport, Marksville, Alexandira, Campti, Coushatta, Bossier, and Shreveport could get behind this.  As the state budget fluctuates in the future, there's more people who've bought into the rail service that will fight to keep it open for a long time   Regular, non-high speed Amtrak service with the standard Amfleet coaches that are being phased out in the northeast would be more than adequate there.     Remember, they don't have service nor a direct, easy route to the capital city by car right now.  Most of those smaller towns like Marksville or New Roads basically have to go to either Shreveport, Baton Rouge or New Orleans for major medical procedures or to take a flight somewhere anyways.   

3.  The standard Amtrack service between Shreveport and Baton Rouge would serve as a "passenger collection" node that feeds passengers into the Baton Rouge station, where a diesel locomotive will be swapped out for an electric while local Baton Rouge passengers board.   The passengers from Shreveport, Marksville, Alexandria, New Roads, etc. can stay on board and take an express high speed train nonstop to New Orleans or switch to another train if their destination is somewhere between Baton Rouge and New Orleans (Medical district, Gonzales, LaPlace, etc.).    If that doesn't make sense....just consider the standard "slow" line north of Baton Rouge a service that basically makes the Baton Rouge passenger market that much bigger.    It picks up passengers in Shreveport and those small towns in between and deposits them in Baton Rouge.    Now the Baton Rouge station is that much more relevant. 

Edited by cajun
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