Amtrak restores full service

Passengers board an Amtrak passenger train during a stop in McComb. Passenger rail service from Memphis, Tenn., to New Orleans has been disrupted throughout most of the summer. 

The “summer of disruption” has reached its end and Amtrak will restore full service on its Chicago-to-New Orleans line starting today, a spokesman for the rail line said.

For most of the summer, most people who have booked a train ticket in McComb have arrived at the station to find a bus awaiting them instead.

The opening of the Bonnet Carre spillway near New Orleans to alleviate Mississippi River flooding and track maintenance in parts of Mississippi have meant few opportunities for people to ride the rails between Memphis, Tenn., and New Orleans.  

“From May until the end of July we weren’t able to run the trains. We were running buses from Jackson down,” Amtrak spokesman Marc Magliari said.

To celebrate the restoration of full service, Amtrak is offering a buy-one, get-one fare for coach and sleeping car customers traveling to or from all stations between Memphis and New Orleans, Magliari said.

Tickets must be purchased by Aug. 31 as one reservation at least three days before travel. To book tickets, go to Amtrak.com/citybogo.

Amtrak fares from McComb to Jackson range between $20 and $92 round trip, and tickets to new Orleans range from $24 to $86, although tickets ordered in advance are usually cheaper, according to prices posted Tuesday.  

Customers riding today also will receive a commemorative item that celebrates the service restoration.

Magliari said a the opening of the spillway in May cut off rail service to New Orleans. The train tracks are in the Bonnet Carre’s floodplain.

“As soon as we got that part of the route back, CN scheduled some track work,” Magliari said, adding that the maintenance disrupted service in parts of Mississippi. “We’ve had not more than a few days in a row since May of being able to run the train from Chicago to New Orleans through McComb.”

Trains that have been seen moving through McComb in the past few weeks have rarely been occupied.

“We might have been moving the train down to New Orleans for servicing,” he said.

 Magliari said Amtrak is glad to have its passengers off buses.

“It certainly wasn’t the train experience people were looking for,” he said.

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