NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – Railroad giant Amtrak released its 2035 rail concept connecting many parts of America mostly in the northeast and southern part of the U.S.
In Tennessee, folks are pushing for Amtrak, which goes through Memphis and could connect Nashville to Atlanta, to expand to other destinations in the state.
The Amtrak concept map for 2035 — caused a stir on social media among some Tennesseans for expanded service. “Amtrak wants to be in Tennessee and they’re open to any and all routes as long as they make sense,” said Rep. John Ray Clemmons (D-Nashville).
In the proposed map rendering, Atlanta, Chattanooga, and Nashville will connect. But there’s an appetite to do more. “Rail connects all of us and it’s something an overwhelming majority of Tennesseans want and it’s on the table right now thanks to President Biden and this infrastructure bill,” Clemmons said.
Biden, last year, signed into law $66 billion in funding for passenger rail the largest since the creation of Amtrak in 1971.
“We need to get behind taking this statewide I want to connect this from Knoxville, all the way to Memphis coming through Nashville and then go north,” said Rep. Jason Powell (D-Nashville).
North connecting Music City to Louisville, Kentucky. Powell is introducing a bill to create the Tennessee Agency of Rail and Public Transportation. “I think it is important for the state to have an agency that is solely focused on making sure that we have rail transportation, commuter rail transportation, across the state,” Powell said.
But existing rail companies may fight against the expansion of passenger rail.
“CSX is actually in my district, so we need to welcome them to, have them at the table to see what we can do,” Powell said.
Lawmakers say the expansion of rail could also be key in revitalizing rural Tennessee. “Amtrak wants to be here, the federal government is putting up money so the only thing missing is what’s the state doing, what are local governments doing we should take yes for an answer,” Clemmons said.
Amtrak last stopped in Nashville in 1979.
Due to the Federal Holiday Amtrak was not available for comment.
A train expansion to Knoxville and Louisville would face some hurdles with topography and existing infrastructure.