FAST FACTS

RAIL LINES
  • Silver Meteor
  • Silver Star
  • Palmetto
POPULATION
  • 146,763
RIDERSHIP
  • 57,180

 

HISTORY

Savannah passenger rail service originated with the Central of Georgia, which originally sent cotton and passengers along routes to Macon and other local destinations in order to keep the city of Savannah competitive in the growing freight business. Over time, the Central, which was headquartered in Savannah, became a major economic engine for the city – in fact, it was the single largest employer in the city for almost a century. Diesel locomotives brought an end to this boom however, and passenger rail languished here like everywhere else when cars became affordable.

Today’s Amtrak lines that pass through Savannah derive their routes from similar north-south train lines from before, such as the Atlantic Coast Line.The three Amtrak routes all started around the formation of Amtrak in the seventies. The Silver Service lines have operated since Amtrak’s inception, while the Palmetto got started in 1976. According to the State Rail Plan created in 2015, Georgia expects there to be a 70 percent increase in Amtrak ridership by 2040.

There has been some talk in Georgia of creating high-speed passenger rail service between cities, connecting Savannah to Macon, Jacksonville, and/or Columbia, but no studies have been done to make these potential routes a reality. Although the fast-growing Port of Savannah will connect new freight tracks to increase capacity, there has been little talk of passenger rail there either.

 

CHALLENGES

SAVANNAH’S DOTTIE

Currently Savannah has bus rapid transit but no passenger rail development outside of its Amtrak station. A streetcar that began running on its iconic River Street in 2014 was temporarily discontinued for construction and has yet to be reinstated.

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