As part of an ambitious growth spurt and hiring spree, America’s National Railroad Passenger Corporation has pinpointed downtown Atlanta as a strategic location for a new intercity station that could cost hundreds of millions of dollars and reestablish the city as the true rail hub it historically was.

Amtrak’s general and legislative annual report for fiscal year 2025 includes a request for nearly $30 million in federal funding to secure a site for a new rail hub in Atlanta and to begin the process of building it.

According to Amtrak’s report, some of the land in question is “at imminent risk of development.” The location is repeatedly referred to as being in downtown Atlanta.  

Exactly where the rail hub could be located downtown—or if downtown, in this case, is a general reference to more urban parts of the city—is not yet clear. Inquiries to Amtrak press officials this week for more information have not been returned.

Amtrak’s $29.9 million grant request for “Atlanta Hub” would support property acquisition to preserve future railroad right-of-way and "ensure that the Hub station site can be connected with existing main line track,” per the report. The funding would also help cover early phase prerequisites such as engineering and work to have the project cleared under the National Environmental Policy Act, or NEPA.

But that amount could ultimately be a drop in the bucket.

Amtrak estimates the new Atlanta facility would cost roughly $700 million once needed infrastructure investments are factored in. That includes new trackage to separate passenger service from freight operations, per Amtrak.

The request for Atlanta funding comes as part of $4 billion in Amtrak grant requests for base needs and modernization of its system as passenger numbers are on the uptick.


As the report details, Atlanta’s current Amtrak station was built in 1918 in what was then a suburban setting, designed for a small number of passengers. Other drawbacks include no parking, no connections to local transit options, an undersized waiting room, and poor access from the station building to its single platform below, which is a particular challenge for disabled passengers, the report notes.

Amtrak has signaled interest in recent years to reestablish Atlanta as a true railroad hub, with an octopus of routes to Charlotte, Nashville, Macon, Montgomery, Birmingham, Savannah, and other cities. Today, just one Amtrak line serves Atlanta—the New York City-to-New Orleans Crescent.

In 2022, the Atlanta City Council passed a resolution urging Amtrak to consider downtown as a viable location for a rail hub; at the time, the $5-billion Centennial Yards megaproject was considered the leading alternative, with the Armour Yards district near Lindbergh also being mentioned. In April, Armour Yards was revealed as one of four locations where Atlanta Mayor Andre Dickens wants to see BeltLine-connected MARTA infill stations built in coming years, though how those would be funded remains a question mark.

Amtrak’s report states the modernized new station would boost the customer experience on the Crescent route and link Atlanta with new intercity passenger trains to cities small and large—Chattanooga, Greenville, SC, Memphis, and Meridian, MS are all named—in addition to the airport.  

The grant request isn’t tied to any proposals already moving through the Federal Railroad Administration’s Corridor Identification and Development program process, but it’s compatible with that effort, per Amtrak.

According to CEO Stephen Gardner, Amtrak is on pace to grow its ridership to 66 million annual passengers—more than doubling peak ridership in pre-pandemic 2019—by 2040. In fiscal year 2025, Amtrak expects ridership to reach nearly 35 million.  

“We strongly believe that intercity passenger rail can—and must—become a much bigger part of American mobility,” Gardner wrote in the annual report, “if we are to support a growing nation and keep pace with our global competitors.”


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