NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — This week, Amtrak executives met with lawmakers to pitch a new passenger route that would take riders from Nashville to Atlanta, with stops in Murfreesboro, Tullahoma and Chattanooga.
Amtrak leaders spoke to lawmakers during a meeting of the House Transportation Committee. During the meeting, lawmakers were able to ask questions about the potential Tennessee expansion.
Nashville currently has no Amtrak routes, and Tennessee only has one route with stops in Memphis and Newbern-Dyersburg.
"It's really a great privilege to be here, Amtrack has almost no service in Tennessee, and we'd like to change that," said Amtrack representative Ray Lang.
Nashville has been on Amtrak's radar going into this year. In the company's five year plan, it states, "The Nashville, TN metropolitan area is ranked the seventh fastest growing city yet Nashville is only served by Thruway bus, generally in the middle of the night."
The six-and-a-half hour route would run twice a day in each direction, according to the proposal. Lang noted the possibility of expanding and creating a Nashville to Memphis route as well.
A split between the publicly-owned company and state money would fund the new route.
"The way it works is if a train costs $100 to run and makes $75 in revenue, the state pays the difference," Lang explained.
When asked what that annual deficit might look like for the Nashville-Atlanta route, Lang responded: "For the Nashville to Atlanta service, you're talking $3 million [a year]."
Both Lang and lawmakers stressed the talks are very preliminary, and it was very early in the process. Still, Rep. Jason Powell said he planned to introduce a bill to study the feasibility of Amtrak's expansion into the mid-state
“While discussions are still very much in the preliminary stages, the potential of a possible Nashville to Atlanta train is obvious. Easing the way to get back and forth between these two major cities could be a game-changer for both and all of the potential stops in between. My bill would study the feasibility, costs and infrastructure needed to bring these services to Nashville and Tennessee," Powell said.