Before 2005, Amtrak offered passenger rail service from Los Angeles to Orlando on its Sunset Limited line. One of the stops along the way was Mobile.

However, after Hurricane Katrina in 2005, Amtrak was forced to discontinue the service because of damage to the tracks between New Orleans and Mobile.

Currently, the Sunset Limited's service ends in New Orleans.

Over the past few years, Amtrak has sought to resume some of the Sunset Limited's discontinued service, tentatively from New Orleans to Mobile as early as this year.

Support in Mobile has been mixed.

Proponents argue bringing Amtrak back to the Alabama coast could be a shot in the arm for tourism.

Opponents say the resumption of passenger rail service could disrupt rail traffic entering and leaving the Port of Mobile.

There may be an additional headwind: economics, specifically the demand for the service and the cost.

Amtrak's projections show that it will lose $373.40 per passenger on its Mobile-New Orleans Gulf Coast service in 2027.

According to the Reason Foundation senior transportation policy analyst Marc Scribner, even those alarming projections could be optimistic.

Scribner told Mobile radio FM Talk 106.5's "The Jeff Poor Show" that there were multiple reasons passenger rail service between the Gulf Coast cities would not make sense.

"The Amtrak by fiscal year 2027 -- that it projects to lose $373.40," Scribner said. "That's an official Amtrak projection. They're required to do these five-year plans and this just came out in their latest five-year plan mandated by Congress. Amtrak has some - how to say it - unconventional accounting practices and is often very optimistic about riderships. So, this may be excessively optimistic.

"It's sort of ludicrous to say this is going to be key contributor to the region given that is a massive subsidy that we're looking at.  And I think the reason why you are going to see very little ridership and very little economic contribution from a restored Gulf Coast Amtrak service is because they are projecting it would take over three hours from Mobile to New Orleans by train. It takes a little over two hours to drive that right now."

Scribner said that by unsubsidized MegaBus it's possible to buy a one-way ticket from Mobile to New Orleans for $30, and it will arrive in two-and-a-half hours, which is obviously faster too.

To connect with the author of this story, or to comment, email

Don’t miss out! Subscribe to our newsletter and get our top stories every weekday morning.