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Amtrak says Orient’s slip won’t derail plans for here

[04/17/01] The derailment of an engine pulling an American Orient Express trainload of tourists in Vicksburg three weeks ago won’t end plans to return passenger service to Vicksburg, rail officials said Monday.

The March 26 derailment was near Levee and Depot streets, and there were no injuries. Still, when the train came through Mississippi last week, it stopped in Jackson and used buses to bring nearly 100 passengers to Vicksburg sites. Officials of the Vicksburg Convention and Visitors Bureau said they had been told the company will do so each week instead of risking the use of local tracks.

The derailment “will have no effect on our plans,” said Kevin Johnson, an Amtrak spokesman in the Chicago office.

The federally subsidized passenger service company announced in February plans to begin offering passenger service between Meridian and Fort Worth.

At that time, Johnson said Amtrak planned to run two trains over the route every day. The proposed route would be from New York to Meridian where the train would be split. One part would continue to New Orleans and the other to Texas.

Johnson said that before the passenger service could begin, the Kansas City Southern Railway tracks will have to be upgraded to passenger standards.

Monday, Johnson said Amtrak is still in the process of evaluating what cities along the route will have stops.

“We have to find out what they (the proposed stops) have, what they need and what they can provide in the form of financial assistance,” he said.

Johnson also said there is still no timetable for when Amtrak plans to begin passenger service.

The last time passenger service was available in Vicksburg was 1968.