“The L & N Don’t Stop Here Anymore.” That’s what people across Kentucky and Tennessee have been saying since the last passenger train left Knoxville’s L & N Station in 1968. Today, that region is drastically underserved by intercity public transport. According to a study by the Department of Transportation, there are 9 cities in Eastern KY and TN with population over 5,000 that have no intercity transport, and are not located near other cities with an airport, train stations, or bus station. Automobile dependency is the modern legacy of passenger trains leaving the region, and with gas prices now expected to only continue to rise, it is time for the passenger train to once again return to the depot. A new Amtrak route could bring economic development, provide sustainable transportation, and save people from spending their paychecks at the gas pump. This new route would connect Amtrak’s Cardinal / Hoosier State Route in Cincinnati to the Crescent Route in Atlanta, and could draw ridership from large cities in the North and South in addition to providing a service to residents of Kentucky and Tennessee. Besides, much of the infrastructure for a new route already exists – from the original L & N and Southern Railway stations that still exist in Berea, Corbin, Williamsburg, Knoxville, Chattanogga, Cartersville and Marietta; to the rail itself, which is used daily by CSX. Many of Amtrak’s trains operate on tracks that are owned by CSX, so creating a new Amtrak route would not be without precedent. If we can show them that there would be enough riders then maybe we can bring the train back.
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