Amtrak pitches adding Nashville to Atlanta passenger train

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FILE – In this March 11, 2013 file photo, the Amtrak Vermonter heads down the track in Berlin, Vt. With Vermont transportation officials having worked for years to restore passenger rail service, upgrades to the 75 miles (120 kilometers) of rail between Burlington and Rutland, crossings, rail sidings and new passenger platforms in Vergennes and Middlebury are nearing completion. Service is expected to begin in 2021 or 2022. (AP Photo/Toby Talbot, File)

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Amtrak executives say they want to establish a passenger route from Nashville to Atlanta, with stops including Murfreesboro, Tullahoma and Chattanooga.

According to news reports, Tennessee lawmakers heard the pitch from the the federally-owned passenger train corporation during a House Transportation panel meeting this week.

Currently, Nashville has no Amtrak routes. The only Tennessee route stops in Memphis and Newbern-Dyersburg.

Ray Lang, Amtrak’s government affairs director, says the idea is in the early stages because the plan would require the federal government to create a grant program for states. It also requires an deal with CSX Corp — the railroad owner — to add more passenger trains.

Lang says the Nashville to Atlanta route would take six-and-half hours and would run twice a day in each direction.

Democratic Rep. Jason Powell says he wants to introduce legislation this year to study the feasibility of Amtrak’s expansion in Tennessee.

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