Virginia Expands Amtrak ServiceWritten by Marybeth Luczak, Executive Editor
Virginia has expanded daily Amtrak service from Richmond to the Northeast Corridor as part of its $3.7 billion initiative to improve passenger and freight rail capacity and relieve automotive traffic congestion in the commonwealth.
Amtrak Northeast Regional Route 51 on Sept. 27 began offering new early-morning service from Main Street Station in Richmond to Washington, D.C., and New York. Riders can now choose from three daily departure times—two in the morning and one in the evening.
“If you’ve ever been stuck on I-95, you know we can’t pave our way out of congestion,” said Governor Ralph Northam, who in December 2019 unveiled the “Transforming Rail in Virginia” initiative, which will boost Amtrak and Virginia Railway Express (VRE) services, create a pathway for the separation of freight and passenger rail in Virginia, and preserve future rail corridors. (The commonwealth, Amtrak, CSX and VRE finalized agreements for the initiative in March.) “This new train offers quick, reliable service from the commonwealth’s capital to Washington, D.C., connecting our two cities and making it easier for thousands of Virginians to get to work in the morning. Virginia is leading the nation in expanded access to high-performance rail—and I look forward to many more milestones ahead.”
“We are pleased to partner with Virginia to bring additional Amtrak service to the Main Street Station,” said Ray Lang, Vice President of State Supported Services at Amtrak.
“Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, service to and from Richmond’s Staples Mill Station was suspended in March 2020,” Virginia Passenger Rail Authority Executive Director DJ Stadtler said. “Today’s resumption of this service, which includes the extension to Main Street Station, marks the return to pre-pandemic service levels in Virginia.”
The Virginia Passenger Rail Authority supports four Northeast Regional routes with service originating in Newport News, Norfolk, Richmond and Roanoke. Riders can travel to cities along the East Coast without changing trains.