Published 12:02 am Wednesday, January 27, 2016

An Amtrak Inspection Train is set to make a stop in Atmore on Feb. 18. | Andrew Garner/Atmore Advance

An Amtrak Inspection Train is set to make a stop in Atmore on Feb. 18. | Andrew Garner/Atmore Advance

Amtrak train to stop in Atmore Feb. 18

Amtrak and the Southern Rail Commission (SRC) announced Monday that they are conducting a tour to examine new ideas for intercity passenger rail and Atmore is one of the stops.

The Inspection Train will run from New Orleans, La. to Jacksonville, Fla., from Feb. 18-19. The train will arrive in Atmore on Feb. 18 at around 2:30 p.m.

The train, which will be hosted by Amtrak President and CEO Joe Boardman, will carry elected officials, industry representatives, community leaders and federal stakeholders. The goal of the trip is to examine the existing CSX railroad infrastructure and to better understand rail’s economic, cultural and mobility opportunities, according to Amtrak.

Sign up for our daily email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

Atmore Mayor Jim Staff said he hopes the inspection proves fruitful for the city, adding that the railroad track is available and has enough to handle an Amtrak service.

Staff said the city has been busy painting the station that sits in front of city hall.

“Depending on what’s got to be done to our platform, we’re not real sure what Amtrak will require,” he said. “They may require a concrete platform.”

Staff said the city knows it may have to redo the platform, but for now, a painted temporary layer of plywood will be put down for the arrival of the inspection train.

At 2:41 p.m., the train will depart from Atmore.

Those on the train will be taken to Wind Creek Casino for a press conference, and will stay the night before being bussed to Pensacola, Fla., the next day, where they’ll get on the inspection train for Jacksonville.

The SRC released a study by Amtrak that details the range of service options accompanied by an analysis of ridership levels, projected revenues and associated costs for passenger trains between New Orleans and Orlando. The models also include a range of service options that will support regional economic resilience and projected population growth.

Last week, Atmore’s representative on the SRC, Jerry Gehman, held a press conference to announce that Amtrak could be sending the train to Atmore.

Staff said the city will be dressed up and smiling as it awaits those on the train.

“You have to realize for Atmore, this is huge,” the Mayor said. “They could’ve stopped in Mobile. They’re stopping here in Atmore. We are the official railroad welcome center for the state.”

Staff said he encourages a big crowd to come and take part in the occasion.