New River Valley Passenger Rail Project
VPRA is working with the New River Valley community to return passenger rail service to the region for the first time since 1979. This project will fund the infrastructure necessary to operate passenger trains from Roanoke to the New River Valley, including track, signaling, and a passenger station platform.
Expanding Service to the New River Valley
On May 5, 2021, the Governor of Virginia announced that the Commonwealth had reached an agreement with Norfolk Southern to extend passenger rail service along the former Virginian Line from Roanoke to the New River Valley (NRV) for the first time since 1979. The Governor’s announcement marked the beginning of negotiations with Norfolk Southern for Virginia to purchase 28.5 miles of right-of-way and tracks along the Virginian Line from the Salem Crossovers west of Roanoke to Merrimac (Christiansburg). The agreement includes plans to increase and expand rail service to the New River Valley through infrastructure improvements, including a new passenger platform.
To better connect statewide Amtrak service to southwestern VPRA completed the New River Valley Passenger Rail Station Feasibility Study in Summer 2022 to examine station locations to construct a new passenger rail platform in the New River Valley. The feasibility study examined and screened viable physical locations to move forward with further environmental review and if awarded federal funding, a National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) Class of Action determination requested by VPRA to the lead federal agency, most likely the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA).
Potential Station Facility
The New River Valley Passenger Rail Station Authority is a separate regional entity established in 2021 by the Virginia General Assembly to create and support passenger rail in the region by constructing a station facility.
The New River Valley Passenger Rail Station Authority is supported by the New River Valley Regional Commission, and its membership is comprised of the following: Montgomery, Pulaski, and Giles counties, Radford, the towns of Blacksburg, Christiansburg, and Pulaski, Radford University and Virginia Tech.
VPRA completed a feasibility study in Summer 2022 to examine five potential locations in and around the New River Valley. Two locations from the Study were identified as the least impactful and were located in the Uptown Christiansburg mall location. In addition to the two sites identified at the Uptown Christiansburg mall, an additional site within the vicinity of the two sites will be developed and will be further examined beginning in Fall 2022 through an environmental review and engineering stage of the process.
The next stage of the process will also include an assessment of additional infrastructure needed to support the expanding service to NRV, which includes track construction alternatives from the Virginian Line to the Blacksburg Branch, multimodal connections to the station, and a layover facility for passenger trains.
After the environmental review and preliminary design, a final site alternative will be identified to move forward with engineering and construction. The environmental review and engineering exercise aim to move the least impactful site to construction.
Any federal funding that may be awarded to the NRV Station project will trigger a NEPA study, which will be informed by the work done during the environmental review and design.
Development: 2016 – 2022
Environmental Review: 2022 – 2024
Engineering: 2022 – 2024
Construction: 2024 – 2026
New River Valley Passenger Rail Station Feasibility Study*
New River Valley Passenger Rail Station Feasibility Study Appendices