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Rep Jason Powell calls for Amtrak service to Nashville
February 22, 2022

The 3rd largest American city with no rail

NASHVILLE, TN – Today, Jason Powell (D-Nashville) announced the creation of the Train Travel Caucus within the Tennessee General Assembly; the filing of House Bill 2278 to promote the expansion of Amtrak across Tennessee and call for the creation of a Tennessee Agency of Rail and Public Transportation. The goal of all of these initiatives is to expand passenger rail across Tennessee.

  rep jason powell
Rep. Jason Powell

The Train Travel Caucus will be a bi-partisan group of Tennessee House and Senate members who are committed to facilitating the expansion of passenger rail across Tennessee linking all major cities with stations in multiple communities in the state. House Bill 2278 would direct the Tennessee advisory commission on intergovernmental relations (TACIR) to perform a study of the feasibility, cost, and infrastructure of expanding passenger railroad service in this state through the National Railroad Passenger Corporation, doing business as Amtrak.

Additional language will call for the creation of a Tennessee Agency of Rail and Public Transportation (TARPT) that reports to the Commissioner of the Tennessee Department of Transportation (TDOT). TARPT would work with local, regional, state, and federal governments, as well as private entities to provide support for rail, public transportation and commuter programs in Tennessee.

Similar to the Virginia Department of Rail and Public Transportation, TARPT would be tasked with assessing feasibility and environmental impacts of new and expanding services; conducting statewide rail and public transportation studies; planning and programming new services and capital improvement projects; and providing leadership, advocacy, technical assistance and funding.

“It is time for train travel across Tennessee,” Powell said. “The announcement of the proposed Amtrak route from Nashville to Chattanooga to Atlanta, Georgia is a game-changer and a great first step for expanding passenger rail service in Tennessee.”

“There is tremendous economic upside for Nashville and the state of Tennessee to have Amtrak service connecting us to other parts of the southeast and the country. Nashville is the third largest city in the United States without Amtrak service. We must do everything in our power as a state to make certain the Nashville line is a priority within the new trillion-dollar federal infrastructure bill. I believe legislators united behind passenger rail and a new government agency focused on this issue are necessary for success. I want to see passenger rail go much further and I hope to see AMTRAK service across Tennessee including a line from Knoxville to Memphis through Nashville and a northern line to Louisville, Kentucky. Passenger rail service will reduce traffic, improve the quality of life and create numerous jobs in Tennessee.”

Powell has been a constant champion of expanding passenger rail across Tennessee having sponsored the bi-partisan House Bill 1712 in the 111th General Assembly to study and promote Amtrak service in Tennessee. The legislation had eighteen co-sponsors and passed in the Senate but did not advance beyond Calendar and Rules in the House in 2020 due to a lack of funding.

Tennessee’s only Amtrak service runs through West Tennessee, with stops in Memphis and Newbern. Nashville lost Amtrak service in 1979 with the elimination of the Chicago-to-Miami.

The $1 trillion infrastructure bill that President Biden signed last year includes the largest investment — $66 billion in funding — in passenger rail since the creation of Amtrak in 1971.

The new and improved Amtrak service proposed to connect with Atlanta is projected to generate a combined $464 million in annual economic impact in the region and nearly $20 billion in economic activity from one-time capital investments. The proposed Amtrak stations in Tennessee include: Nashville, Nashville International Airport, Murfreesboro, Tullahoma and Chattanooga.

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