Why is passenger rail so important to Georgia?
It’s all about maintaining our state’s competitiveness. We must do everything we can to strengthen our competitive position and avoid undermining our own strategy of developing the best port and airport on the East Coast. Transportation has always been vital to the growth and prosperity of Georgia. Passenger rail is the next step in our economic development
What’s the first step for passenger rail?
Georgians for Passenger Rail is supporting an initial passenger rail line from Macon to Atlanta. This would be the first segment of an eventual rail line that will link cities around the state and region. We commissioned a study by The Brookings Institution to define the economic impact of this rail line. To read the Executive Summary of the report, click here.
Will new rail lines be constructed?
More than 5,000 miles of rail lines already exist in Georgia. While many sections will have to be rebuilt, most of the right-of-way to reconnect Georgia cities is available. Some new lines would be required, and eventually a high-speed rail network will create new modern rail corridors.
How will rail service be funded?
The Brookings Institution study outlines a variety of possible funding methods that can be used. The passage of the Transportation Investment Act of 2010 (HB 277) did not prove to be a viable strategy for funding projects that crossed regions. Transportation funding in Georgia for all modes remains a significant issue especially in the nine regions that did not pass the Transportation SPLOST. It is clear that state leadership will be needed to advance passenger rail.
Where will rail stops be located along the Macon to Atlanta route?
Generally commuter rail stops are spaced 7 – 15 miles apart, about one per county. The Brookings Institution study modeled stops in Hapeville, Morrow, Hampton, Griffin, Forsyth and Macon, but that is subject to change. There is also potential for other towns and communities to link into the rail line through van or bus service. Because of the scalable nature of passenger rail service, stations could be added and service frequency increased to add capacity.
Why was the Macon line selected as the pilot rail operation?
The Macon-Atlanta line makes sense as a first project for many reasons:
• Existing underutilized track is available.
• There is strong support along the route.
• Federal support for this line is available now if Georgia if applies for and provides the matching funds.
This investment also drives economic benefits into the center of Georgia, creating support for a much-needed secondary growth corridor for the region.
What other Georgia communities are interested in passenger rail service?
Columbus Mayor Teresa Tomlinson has appointed a Mayor’s Commission on Passenger Rail and has secured funding for an alternatives analysis and feasibility study. The Georgia Department of Transportation is continuing to work on developing a state rail plan, a necessary step for securing federal participation. GDOT has also hired contractors for the potential alignments and service to Chattanooga, Charlotte, and other destinations. There are individuals and groups in many locations in Georgia interested in putting passenger rail on the local agenda. Reconnecting these cities by rail service will generate economic development, will help unify the state, and will stimulate new opportunities in the corridors between these cities.
What are the barriers to implementation of passenger rail service in Georgia?
Since this service would be operated largely on existing rail lines, it is essential that freight service not be adversely affected. Investments to increase rail efficiency and capacity require funding, but just as important, Georgia needs to invest in internal expertise and capacity in rail within the department to establish priorities and pursue a rail program. State investments in freight rail capacity will reduce congestion on our highways and support a more balanced transportation program. Historically Georgia has had very little flexibility in transportation funding and this remains a significant barrier.