Virginia launches Richmond – D.C train route

By Maria-Paula 
Virginia recently launched a new train service, Route 51, of Amtrak’s Northeast Region operating from Richmond’s Main Street Station at Shockoe Bottom neighborhood with multiple stops in the north corridor destined for Washington, D.C. and New York City. The Virginia Passenger Rail Authority train supports four routes, including Newport News, Norfolk, Richmond and Roanoke. Virginia Governor Ralph Northam (D,) accompanied by other officials, boarded the train’s inaugural ride on Monday at 5:35 am arriving at the capital before official workday hours. The train scheduled for three trips daily, two in the morning and one in the evening, makes the service suitable for all and sundry whether chasing office time or not. “If you have ever been stuck on I-95, you know we can’t pay our way out of congestion. This new train gives reliable, quick service from the commonwealth’s capital to Washington, D.C., by connecting our two cities and making it easy 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,” said Northam. The new service is expected to increase Amtrak’s Virginia ridership to an additional 12,000 yearly, a boost to the company’s pre-pandemic levels. Also, services which were suspended to and from Richmond’s Staples Mill Station in March 2020 due to the COVID 19 pandemic resumed this week, including the extension to Main Street Station. “We are pleased to partner with the commonwealth to bring more Amtrak service to the Main Street Station,” said Amtrak vice president Ray Lang in charge of state supported services. “ It’s a honor that our customers trust us on their journey as they feel comfortable travelling again, and we are excited to welcome them on-board.” This being Gov. Northam’s first major rail expansion under the $3.7 billion Transforming Rail in Virginia program, in conjunction with other federal transportation chiefs, the service is intended to expand passenger rail service within the commonwealth, and to other states along the East Coast. With Virginia constructing a 386-mile rail and a 223-mile track new Long Bridge over the Potomac, the over $1 billion program under the national rail network, will connect the Northeast and Southeast corridors in an alliance between Amtrak, CSX Transportation and Virginia Railway Express (VRE). As congestion driving in and out of D.C. on I-95 prompts the search for alternative transport, it is anticipated that over the next 10 years, the rail program will provoke near hourly Amtrak service between Richmond and D.C.. 


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