WASHINGTON – U.S. Senators Roger Wicker, R-Miss., and Cindy Hyde-Smith, R-Miss., and Representative Steven Palazzo, R-Miss., today announced the award of a $5.45 million grant to support operating costs for the first three years of passenger rail service along the Gulf Coast, which ended in 2005 after Hurricane Katrina severely damaged the route. “Restoring passenger rail service along the Mississippi Gulf Coast is a long-awaited symbol of the progress our state has made in recovering from Hurricane Katrina,” Wicker said. “Regular service along this route will create jobs, increase quality of life for our residents, and give tourists and travelers a convenient option to access the many amenities along our shore.” “Restoring passenger rail service on the Mississippi Gulf Coast has been a long-held dream for the past 15 years. This grant, along with a lot of hard work by many people, brings that dream closer to a reality. This service will bring great tourism and economic benefits to our state,” Hyde-Smith said. “As we work to connect the Gulf Coast through public transportation, this grant provides continued support for improved rail service and accessibility. As the Amtrak project moves forward, Mississippi will have four stops on the route that will bring in more money for our local economy,” Palazzo said. The Federal Railroad Administration award to the Southern Rail Commission will enable resumption of Amtrak service involving two daily round trips from New Orleans to Mobile, with station stops in Bay St. Louis, Gulfport, Biloxi, and Pascagoula. The States of Louisiana and Mississippi, as well as the City of Mobile, will provide additional operating support for the restoration of the route.