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Thu May 6, 2021, 11:07 AM

Passenger Rail Returning to Virginia's New River Valley

May 06, 2021

Passenger Rail Returning to Virginia’s New River Valley

Written by Marybeth Luczak, Executive Editor

The Commonwealth of Virginia and Norfolk Southern (NS) have reached a $257.2 million agreement that will increase existing Amtrak service to Roanoke and expand service to the New River Valley.

The agreement, known as the Western Rail Initiative, calls for:

One additional round-trip train to Roanoke in 2022. It will depart Washington, D.C., in the morning and also serve Alexandria, Burke, Manassas, Culpeper, Charlottesville and Lynchburg. The service will complement existing Amtrak Northeast Corridor service that travels northbound from Roanoke in the morning and returns in the afternoon.
An extension of Northeast Corridor service from Roanoke to Christiansburg in southwest Virginia’s New River Valley, upon completion of infrastructure improvements in 2025. It will mark the first time since 1979 that the area will have rail service, which is expected to add approximately 80,000 new riders in the first year.

To provide these services, Gov. Ralph Northam announced May 5 that the agreement includes:

$38.2 million for the acquisition of approximately 28.5 miles of right-of-way and track from the Salem Crossovers west of Roanoke to Merrimac (Christiansburg).
$219 million for Roanoke Yard improvements; a 7-mile siding from Nokesville to Calverton; the creation of a 22-mile continuous double-track corridor from Manassas to Remington; and improvements from Salem to Christiansburg, including signaling and track upgrades, a maintenance facility, a passenger platform, and other infrastructure work along the Route 29/Interstate 81 corridor.

The Commonwealth and NS “will continue to work to finalize definitive legal agreements, with execution planned by the end of 2021,” the Office of the Governor reported.

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