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Amtrak expansion delayed

By By Ben Alexander/The Meridian Star
Dec. 21, 2000
A disagreement between Amtrak and Union Pacific over rights to use the freight liner's tracks has delayed the opening of planned Meridian-Dallas/Ft. Worth passenger service until this summer at the earliest.
The announcement came Wednesday at the mayor's regularly-scheduled press conference.
Amtrak officials announced the new line in August and projected it would be in place by last month.
To secure a route to Dallas/Ft. Worth, Amtrak will buy rights to use some freight liners' tracks. In addition, they will agree to help pay for upgrades and improvements needed because of the additional wear and tear on the tracks.
Smith said a dispute between Amtrak and the freight lines over how much money will be spent on structural improvements and upgrades is the cause of the delay in service.
The portion of the route in question is around Shreveport, La. The mayor said Amtrak officials had been pursuing negotiations with Union Pacific, but negotiations have bogged down. Amtrak officials are now focusing on a deal with the Kansas City Southern line.
Smith said wrangling during deals of this kind is not uncommon, adding that Amtrak may have been too quick in announcing when the service was to begin.
The mayor said he is confident the final details for the service expansion will be worked out after the new year.
Ben Alexander is a staff writer for The Meridian Star. E-mail him at balexander@themeridianstar.com.

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