Virginia passenger trains set new record in January

The temporary shutdown of the pandemic caused a plunge in many charts including those that depict ridership on public transit. The Virginia Passenger Rail Authority this week has reported that ridership on state-funded trains has not only returned to pre-pandemic levels but has also set a new record. 

Ridership on the four Amtrak routes in January was 87,300, a 27.7 percent increase over January 2020. That’s a new record for the first month of the year. The train lines to Roanoke and Norfolk both saw big increases in ridership due to additional service. 

The Amtrak service between Roanoke and D.C. saw 22,639 riders in January, up from 16,689 three years ago. The Norfolk route had 31,226 passenger journeys, up 62.5 percent from January 2020. The service to Newport News stayed about the same at 24,215 and the service to Richmond was up 11.4 percent to 9,220. 

Credit: Virginia Passenger Rail Authority

The numbers for both January 2021 and January 2022 were much lower. 

“The strength of these January ridership numbers – during what is usually a slow travel month – shows that demand for rail service across the Commonwealth continues to grow,” said VPRA executive director DJ Stadtler in a press release. “It also reveals that more and more travelers are looking for alternatives and will choose rail when the service is reliable, safe, and on time.”

The first state-funded passenger service started in October 2009 between Lynchburg and D.C.  Now there are eight roundtrips daily with stops at 17 locations across all of the corridors. 

Overall, 1,021,452 passengers took train trips on Virginia’s Amtrak trains in 2022, a record year of ridership. 

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