Poll Shows Wide Support of New Orleans to Baton Rouge Passenger Rail Service
Hyma Moore | [email protected] | Published on April 17, 2019
Baton Rouge, La. – A new poll being released today shows that 85% of the
respondents think it is very important or important to have an intercity rail service between New
Orleans and Baton Rouge. The poll also found that 63% said they would use the train and more
than 80% supported the state including passenger rail in the transportation options they
currently provide along with highways and airports.
Other findings in the poll showed that 80% thought a passenger rail service between the states’
largest cities would bring economic development, while 82% said they thought it would reduce
congestion on I-10. More than 80% of the respondents were more likely to support passenger
train service if the trains were used for evacuation of citizens in a future hurricane.
Residents living along the train route agreed that they would ride the train to sporting events in
each city. More than 70% said they would use the train for events at the Superdome and Arena
for sporting events and more than 60% said they would ride the train to see LSU sporting events
in Baton Rouge.
The federal government currently has a program that will provide matching funds for
infrastructure improvements needed for new inter-city passenger rail services and 79% of
respondents said they would support using state funds to match the federal funds.
75% reacted positively to the train as an alternative to driving because it would take one hour
and fifteen minutes to travel between the two cities, and have Wi-Fi and food service.
The proposed passenger train would operate on existing freight tracks with stops in Baton
Rouge, Gonzales, LaPlace, Louis Armstrong International airport, Kenner and the Union
Passenger Terminal (UPT) in downtown New Orleans. According to a 2014 study, the capital
investment for starting the service would be $262 million with federal funds underwriting up to
half of that amount. Existing rail infrastructure owned by Kansas City Southern and Canadian
National would be improved to provide for safer movement of cargo and passengers along the
80-mile corridor. Crossings would be upgraded, and rail lines doubled in some sections to allow
freight and passenger trains to move efficiently on the same lines. Many bridges would be
strengthened or replaced so trains could travel at higher speeds. Replacing the 1.8-mile wooden
rail bridge across the Bonnet Carre Spillway is the largest capital cost item at $62.1 million.
Initially, the service will have two daily round trips at speeds of 79 mph but more than 60% of
the respondents in the poll said they would like to see more trips each day. The ticket price
would be between $10 and $15 each way.
Reestablishing passenger rail service between Baton Rouge and New Orleans is critical to the
continued economic growth of the southeast Louisiana Super Region which includes more than
2.2 million people and over 1 million jobs. For this region to remain nationally and globally
competitive, connectivity between the major population, employment. social and cultural centers
must be enhanced. High-quality rail service can be a critical component of the transportation
network connecting these two metropolitan areas.
The poll was conducted in February with 1,050 registered voters in the parishes along the
proposed route of the rail service between New Orleans and Baton Rouge and a margin of error
of +/-2.9%. The poll was sponsored by the Southern Rail Commission, the Baton Rouge Area
Chamber and Greater New Orleans Inc.