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Louisiana pushes for New Orleans-Baton Rouge passenger rail service

(The Associated Press circulated the following on August 6, 2009.)

BATON ROUGE, La. — The state is working on plans to seek about $300 million from the federal government to launch passenger railroad service between Baton Rouge and New Orleans.

Similar proposals have failed, including two tries since Hurricane Katrina struck in 2005.

This plan faces major hurdles too. One is how the state would come up with $18 million per year to operate the rail service.

However, top state officials contend that, in a best-case scenario, rail service between Baton Rouge and New Orleans could begin by 2013.

State transportation official Tom Atkinson said Wednesday that ridership level should sustain the service and make it grow.

An early state analysis says the rail service could attract up to 500,000 riders per year and reduce highway traffic volume.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

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