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Carmichael: Meridian won't lose the Crescent

By Staff
THE AMTRAK CRESCENT Eddie Chestnut, left, a conductor on the Amtrak Crescent, reviews paperwork with S.A. Culpepper, center, an assistant conductor, and R.M. Smith, right, the engineer, before the train left for New Orleans on Thursday afternoon. Amtrak has threatened to end the Crescent and other long-distance trains Sept. 30 without more federal funding. Photo by Carisa McCain / The Meridian Star
By Chris Allen Baker/staff writer
Feb. 8, 2002
Even though longtime transportation advocate Gil Carmichael wants Congress to restructure Amtrak, he believes Meridian will retain its only passenger train line.
Carmichael, a Meridian businessman and chairman of the Amtrak Reform Council, said Thursday he believes passenger train service in Meridian could increase.
Carmichael was in Washington on Thursday to deliver a report to Congress saying that Amtrak should be transformed into a passenger train operating body only.
The Amtrak Reform Council recommended giving Amtrak two to five years to prove it could operate competitive and efficient service.
But after that, the government would be allowed to open a competitive bidding process for franchises to run various routes.
The report comes less than a week after Amtrak officials threatened to end all long-distance trains Sept. 30 without more federal funding.
Among the trains at risk: the storied Amtrak Crescent, which runs daily between New Orleans and New York.
Carmichael said he believes Meridian won't lose the Crescent. The north-bound train stops in Meridian every morning, the sound-bound train stops in the afternoon.
Carmichael said more routes are needed for expanded service including the much-discussed expansion of the Crescent, adding a branch from Meridian to Dallas.
Carmichael said the Amtrak Reform Council's plan would rely on competition from other companies to make rail travel better.