Track services

Amtrak livestreamed an empty railroad in a fight with freight companies

Amtrak has joined Twitch, the popular site primarily used by video gamers to broadcast their gaming sessions for their fans to watch. Amtrak doesn’t play video games, however. Instead, Amtrak tries to prove a point in its ongoing battle with freight companies to restart passenger trains between Mobile, Alabama and New Orleans. Service between cities was discontinued after Hurricane Katrina in 2005.

CSX and Norfolk Southern are trying to stop Amtrak from restoring rail service between the cities, saying it will create “a near-catastrophic collapse in freight operations” unless major infrastructure improvements, which could cost more than $400 million , are made.

While Amtrak has the legal right to use the tracks and have priority over freight trains, the companies are calling for an exemption from the law which states that passenger trains cannot “unreasonably interfere with the transportation of goods”.

Amtrak does not believe running two round-trip trains per day between Mobile and New Orleans would impact freight traffic. To prove their point, Amtrak installed a camera and broadcast the empty track live on its newly created Twitch page.

Throughout the day, Amtrak captured five trains traveling along the tracks. Amtrak said it proves the tracks can handle the extra trains and accused the two companies of “essentially trying to veto passenger service expansion by holding the service hostage to $440 million or more.” ransom”.

CSX responded to the Twitch stream, accusing Amtrak of misleading the public about freight track occupancy.

“It takes about 8 to 10 hours for a freight train to travel between New Orleans and Mobile,” a CSX spokesperson said in a statement. “To focus on one point on a line that traverses approximately 138 miles of single track, major ports and interchange points and then to claim that it is indicative of the operational realities of the entire line is grossly misleading. Anyone who understands railroad operations, including Amtrak, would know that.”