U.S. Secretary of Transportation: Amtrak rail in Tennessee could ‘unlock’ economic activity
Amtrak doesn’t run any rail line east to west through Tennessee, while state Democrats have long advocated for an expansion.
U.S. Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigeig speaking at Nashville International Airport on March 3, 2023. (Photo: John Partipilo)
While in Nashville last week, the federal transportation secretary signaled his support for expanding Amtrak rail in Tennessee.
U.S. Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg said connecting Nashville by rail lines to places like Memphis, Louisville and Atlanta has enormous potential.
“Those connections could unlock a lot of economic activity,” Buttigieg said while attending a grant ceremony at Nashville’s airport.
Most of the Nashville Democratic state delegation was in attendance for the ceremony. Neither of the three Republican U.S. Congressmen — U.S. Reps. Andy Ogles, John Rose, or Mark Green — representing parts of Nashville attended.
Amtrak is a for-profit national passenger rail company that receives substantial funding from federal and state grants.
Amtrak runs only one rail line in Tennessee through Memphis, leaving the rest of the state off its passenger rail map.
Joining Buttigeig at the Nashville International Airport were, front row from left: Sen. Jeff Yarbro, Sen. Heidi Campbell, Rep. John Ray Clemmons, and Rep. Justin Jones, all Nashville Democrats. Back row from left: Metro Councilmembers Robert Swope and Sulfate Suara and Rep. Caleb Hemmer, D-Nashville. (Photo: John Partipilo)
Nashville Democrats have long advocated for the state and federal transportation departments to work together to fund an Amtrak line running from Chattanooga to Memphis, crossing through Nashville, Knoxville and other cities in the state.
The Tennessee Department of Transportation sent a letter to Federal Rail Administration stating they intend to seek a rail grant. But, before that can happen, the Tennessee Advisory Commission on Intergovernmental Relations has to finish a lawmaker-mandated study on passenger rail.
Amtrak released a 2035 plan showing it wants to build a line from Nashville to Atlanta with a stop in Chattanooga.
Our stories may be republished online or in print under Creative Commons license CC BY-NC-ND 4.0. We ask that you edit only for style or to shorten, provide proper attribution and link to our web site. Please see our republishing guidelines for use of photos and graphics.