NEW ORLEANS, Aug. 29 (UPI) -- Amtrak said Friday it was temporarily suspending rail service to and from New Orleans because of approaching severe weather and an emergency declaration.
Gustav regained hurricane strength Friday afternoon as it moved from Jamaica to the Caymans and the National Weather Service in Miami said the storm could reach the U.S. Gulf Coast Saturday night or Sunday.
Amtrak said it would make train equipment already in New Orleans available to federal and state authorities for use in evacuation of New Orleans. The action is in keeping with Amtrak's role as a national transportation asset under terms of its contract with the Federal Emergency Management Administration, which is preparing for the evacuation of New Orleans.
Passengers with travel plans through the affected areas on routes of the New York-Atlanta-New Orleans Amtrak Crescent; Chicago-Memphis-New Orleans Amtrak City of New Orleans; and the Los Angeles-San Antonio-New Orleans route of the Amtrak Sunset Limited were advised to call Amtrak at 800-USA-RAIL.
Amtrak said it was contacting passengers with telephone contact information in their reservations to offer other travel options. Ticketed passengers affected by the service suspension may receive refunds, Amtrak said.