Lawmaker pushes for passenger trains
State Rep. Jason Powell wants the state to study the possibility of drastically increasing passenger rail service in Tennessee.
- Powell has filed legislation asking a state commission to examine the feasibility, cost and infrastructure needed to expand rail.
What he's saying: Powell tells Axios he's making this push now in light of last year's federal infrastructure bill, which earmarked $66 billion for passenger rail.
- "The key thing here is Nashville is the third-largest city without Amtrak service and the second largest with no passenger rail service," Powell says. "This makes a ton of sense. Let's make Nashville a centerpiece in the southeast for Amtrak."
Why it matters: Amtrak has proposed a route connecting Nashville to Atlanta through Chattanooga, which the company estimates would generate a combined $464 million in annual economic impact.
- Powell unveiled his legislation in a press conference Tuesday. He also called for the creation of a state rail agency, which would report to the Tennessee Department of Transportation commissioner.
- Powell and other lawmakers also announced the formation of the Train Travel Caucus. Powell says the new caucus will be a bipartisan group of lawmakers committed to expanding passenger rail service across the state.
Flashback: Then-Amtrak CEO Bill Flynn listed Music City as a dream addition during an interview last year with "Axios on HBO."
- "I think Nashville would be a great place to stop," Flynn said. "I mean, how many country-western songs involve trains?"
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