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Monday, November 14, 2011 - 12:00am

Savannah Group Studies Atlanta Rail Link

A Savannah group is launching an effort to bring back passenger rail service between the coastal city and Atlanta.

The initiative is a political long shot, but the organizers are aiming to show there's a ready market for the rail link.

Passenger rail proponents for decades have had a hard time getting new services in Georgia even in big market Metro Atlanta.

So, linking Savannah, Macon and Atanta via rail would seem a quixotic venture.

But Katherine Hazard of South by Southeast says, the group's main effort right now is building public support and a market study.

"We get people talking about it. That's what this country was founded on," Hazard says. "If we start talking about it and if we get intelligent individuals talking about it, eventually politicians have to catch on."

Hazard says, 30 colleges and universities on the Atlanta-Savannah corridor are each potential research partners.

"In this economic climate, it's certainly going to be difficult to build any new infrastructure," Hazard says. "But the beauty of this project is that we are tapping into high intellectual resources. We're trying to cover the research behind what it takes to build a train."

The last rail link from Atlanta to Savannah was a train called the Nancy Hanks.

It stopped running in 1971.