RELEASE:

Wicker Questions Chief Railroad Administrator on Restoring Gulf Coast Rail Service

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Roger Wicker, R-Miss., a member of the Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee, today questioned Acting Administrator of the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA), Sarah Feinberg, about the agency’s efforts to restore passenger rail service along the Gulf Coast. That service was discontinued in 2005 in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. Wicker’s comments came during Feinberg’s nomination hearing.

“I am pleased that Acting Administrator Feinberg is committed to working with us on restoring rail service to the Gulf Coast,” Wicker said. “The intent of Congress on this matter is clear – it is time to begin the work of bringing back passenger rail service between New Orleans and Orlando. I look forward to welcoming Administrator Feinberg to Mississippi in the near future to give her a firsthand look at the importance of the line.”

Wicker also discussed the looming deadline regarding the agency’s extension of positive train control (PTC). That extension ends on December 31, 2015.

“It seems that Congress will need to extend the PTC deadline for a period of time,” Wicker said. “The administration needs to be more specific about how much additional time is needed to fully implement PTC.”

Earlier this year, Wicker and Sen. Cory Booker, D-N.J., introduced a bipartisan measure to improve passenger rail safety, reauthorize Amtrak services, and improve existing rail infrastructure. The bill, “Railroad Reform, Enhancement, and Efficiency Act,” would establish a working group with Mississippi representatives to study the return of rail service from New Orleans to Orlando across our Gulf Coast. It was passed unanimously out of the Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee in June, and was contained in the “Surface Transportation Reauthorization Bill,” which was passed by the full Senate on July 30.

9/17/15