July 11, 2022
Events held at the Alexandria and Roanoke Stations
July 11, 2022 RICHMOND & WASHINGTON, DC – The Virginia Passenger Rail Authority (VPRA) and Amtrak today celebrated the start of a new daily roundtrip between Washington, DC and Roanoke with events in Alexandria and Roanoke.
With this new frequency Virginians now have two roundtrips to choose from when traveling between Virginia’s Blue Ridge and the nation’s capital. The new roundtrip departs Washington at 8:05am, arriving in Roanoke at 1:00pm. The return trip departs Roanoke at 4:30pm and arrives in Washington at 9:28pm. The service includes stops in Alexandria, Manassas, Culpeper, Charlottesville, and Lynchburg.
“With a 7.8% increase in ridership on the Roanoke route in May compared to May of last year, it’s clear that Virginians in the Blue Ridge region value rail as a transportation option,” said DJ Stadtler, executive director of VPRA. “This second roundtrip will provide more flexibility for those traveling to and from Washington and points north, including Philadelphia, New York, and even Boston.”
“Amtrak is proud to partner with Virginia to bring more service to this mountain city and mark another significant milestone in the growth of passenger rail in the Commonwealth,” Amtrak CEO Stephen Gardner said. “Traveling by train is an attractive option for residents who want to venture out on our national network and for people who want to visit the area and explore a vibrant downtown, outdoor amenities and endless trails.”
“Together, 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,” NS Senior Vice President and Chief Strategy Officer Mike McClellan said. “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.”
“I commend VPRA, Norfolk Southern, and Amtrak on their diligent work to launch this additional roundtrip to Roanoke, at a time when travelers need it the most,” said Virginia Secretary of Transportation Sheppard “Shep” Miller III. “As traffic in the Commonwealth continues to grow, it’s clear that we need smart options to meet the transportation needs of all Virginians. By increasing rail service to and from the Blue Ridge, we are providing another option and making travel through the Commonwealth easier and more cost-effective.”
“As the nation’s largest intercity passenger rail service, Amtrak is a valuable partner to the Commonwealth in accomplishing its mission of connecting Virginians and communities and expanding its multimodal services,” said Jennifer DeBruhl, Director of the Virginia Department of Rail and Public Transportation and Chair of the Virginia Passenger Rail Authority Board. “Working together with Norfolk Southern to enhance operations along this corridor, Virginia is moving forward on its pursuit of improving the freight and passenger rail networks to help relieve congestion, save lives, improve air quality, and grow the economy.”
“We are excited to see a second roundtrip passenger rail service added to the City of Roanoke!” said Sherman P. Lea, Sr., Mayor of Roanoke. “It is important that we are able to offer a convenient and affordable travel option to our city residents and surrounding communities and encouraging to see the increased ridership in Roanoke.”
The Western Rail Agreement, which made this new roundtrip possible, was signed by VPRA and Norfolk Southern Corporation (NYSE:NSC) late last month. With this agreement, the Commonwealth acquired approximately 28 miles of Norfolk Southern-owned “V-line” right-ofway from Christiansburg to the Salem Crossovers including the passenger easement between Salem Crossovers and the Roanoke station platform. Future plans include the expansion of service into the New River Valley.
Rail service returned to Roanoke in 2017 when Amtrak’s Northeast Regional service was extended from Lynchburg to Roanoke. Since that time more than 210,000 passengers have traveled to and from the Star City of the South on the train. In April and May of 2022 ridership on the Roanoke Route surpassed the record ridership of the same months in 2019. April saw an increase of 3,3% with 19,605 passengers traveling in April of 2022 compared to 18,984 in April of 2022. In May of 2022 21,059 passengers traveled versus 19,535 in May of 2019, a 7.8% increase.
Tickets are now available for purchase on Amtrak.com, Amtrak mobile apps, or by calling 800- USA-Rail.
About Virginia Passenger Rail Authority
The Virginia Passenger Rail Authority was established in 2020 to promote, sustain, and expand the availability of passenger and commuter rail service in the Commonwealth. VPRA is committed to delivering passenger rail service as an integrated, affordable, and convenient travel option and plays a critical role in mitigating current and future traffic congestion on Virginia’s highways, promoting economic development, and connecting communities by increasing passenger rail capacity, services, and ridership.
For 50 years, Amtrak has connected America and transformed transportation by modernizing train travel and building for the future. Amtrak will continue to play an important role in the national transportation network for the next 50 years and beyond by operating a safe, environmentally efficient and fiscally responsible business by providing travelers with an experience that sets a new standard. Book travel, check train status, access your eTicket and more through the Amtrak app. Learn more at Amtrak.com and connect with us on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook and LinkedIn.
Karina Romero, VPRA
Kimberly Woods, Amtrak