Category Archives: Passenger rail in Virginia

CTB briefed on second daily D.C. / Roanoke train

This past July, the Virginia Passenger Rail Authority began running a second Amtrak service between Roanoke and D.C.’s Union Station. This additional train had been planned for many years, but it took negotiations with Norfolk Southern to make it work. 

“We negotiated a second train on that route because ridership in 2019 actually hit record highs on that route, one of the best routes in the county in terms of a cost benefit analysis so we added a second train starting July 11,”  said Michael McLaughlin is the chief operating officer of the Virginia Passenger Rail Authority. 

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Ridership increases on Virginia-funded Amtrak trains

In July, more than 110,000 passenger rides were taken on Amtrak trains whose cost is partially covered through the Commonwealth of Virginia. Amtrak released figures for July this week and that month was the first with two new roundtrip services including an additional train between Roanoke and D.C. that serves Charlottesville. 

Around 27,375 riders took the Roanoke route in July, up 27 percent from 21,654 in June. The year-to-year increase 72.1 percent for a service that also stops in Alexandria, Burke Center, Manassas, Culpeper, and Lynchburg. An expansion to Christiansburg is planned for the next few years. 

The July 2022 numbers were up 31.4 percent over the last summer before the pandemic. A roundtrip service to Newport News was suspended for a portion of the shutdown, but has been resumed. 

“Every route saw an increase in ridership with Newport News topping the list,” reads a press release from Amtrak

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Second daily train between Roanoke and DC to start July 11

A deal between the Virginia Passenger Rail Authority and Norfolk Southern closed on June 30, which means additional passenger rail service will begin next Monday. According to a release, the state entity will now own 28 miles of track between Christiansburg and Salem that will allow for the expansion of passenger rail to the New River Valley in a few years.

“We have reached an agreement that expands access for passengers and preserves an important link in the supply chain for businesses that rely on freight rail to ship base materials and finished products,” said Norfolk Southern Senior Vice President and Chief Strategy Officer Mike McClellan. “The partnership of our government leaders was critical to making this plan a reality and we appreciate their commitment to the people and economy of Virginia’s Blue Ridge.”

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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
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