Ceremony held to launch Virginia’s $3.7 billion passenger rail investment

On Tuesday, a ceremony was held at the Alexandria train station that is the culmination of an announcement in December 2019 from Governor Ralph Northam about a $3.7 billion investment in Virginia rail. 

That includes:

  • A $1.9 billion bridge over the Potomac River dedicated to passenger rail
  • Public purchase of 223 miles of track and 386 miles of right of way from CSX
  • $1 billion in related infrastructure improvements in Virginia

Shannon Valentine is Virginia’s Secretary of Transportation. 

“From the moment that this agreement in principle, the concept, was negotiated with CSX and announced in December 2019, with our partners Amtrak and [Virginia Railway Express], we have been working deliberately and sequentially over these past 15 months,” Valentine said.

The expansion of Long Bridge has cleared at many environmental hurdles. An authority to expand passenger rail has been created. Congress has given approval to transfer some parkland to the project. (read press release)

The ceremony was held at the train station in Alexandria (watch the ceremony)

The ceremony was held at the Alexandria train station to sign the agreements governing how CSX, Amtrak and VRE will work together.

“Through an extraordinary year, often with great uncertainty, there has been steadfast commitment to reaching this destination,” Valentine said. 

The initiative includes purchase of a freight corridor between Charlottesville and Doswell north of Richmond for eventual passenger rail service. Also included is funding to extend rail service to Christiansburg and planning to hear further west to Bristol. 

“This transformative plan will make travel faster and safer,” Northam said. “It will make it easier to move up and down our east coast and it will connect urban and rural Virginia.” 

Also in attendance was U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg who said the recently signed American Rescue Plan will help ensure public transit makes it through the pandemic.

“The rescue plan has more than $30 billion in funding for public transit agencies helping them to avoid layoffs and service cuts,” Buttigieg said. “We know that the cuts these agencies were facing disproportionately harm workers who depend on public transportation including so many of the workers we have belatedly come to call essential workers.”  

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