Friday, January 20, 2012

New Amtrak service target date for Norfolk, Va.

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Amtrak reportedly hopes to begin passenger rail service to Norfolk, Va., along the south side of the James River, by the end of the year.

Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell's office said Wednesday that the service will begin by Dec. 31, about 10 months earlier than originally anticipated.

Amtrak’s new route will connect Norfolk with Richmond, and by extension to Amtrak’s Northeast Corridor as far north as Boston, returning intercity passenger rail service to Norfolk for the first time since 1977. Amtrak service will continue on its current route through the state’s Tidewater region, which terminates at Newport News, on the north side of the James River, Amtrak and Virginia officials have said.

Amtrak’s Norfolk station will be at Harbor Park in downtown Norfolk, which will allow passengers to connect with The Tide, Norfolk’s new light rail service which began revenue operations last year.

Improvements to the right-of-way, owned by Norfolk Southern, is being funded by an $87 million Rail Enhancement Fund grant, and includes upgraded signaling, track extensions and connections, passenger train turning and servicing facilities, and a track and platform near Norfolk’s Harbor Park. Also included is construction of a new connection between Norfolk Southern and CSX Transportation tracks near Petersburg, Va.

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