Transportation
5:13 pm
Thu January 9, 2014

All Aboard for Roanoke

Officials with the Department of Rail and Public transportation and Norfolk Southern have signed an agreement to extend Amtrak service from Lynchburg to Roanoke. 

Governor McDonnell says last year’s transportation funding plan was instrumental in funding the return of intercity passenger rail service to the Star City for the first time in more than 30 years.  State Department of Rail and Public Transportation Director Thelma Drake says the agreement is a big step forward

"It has taken some time to determine what are the improvements that are needed in order to run inner-city passenger rail service into the city of Roanoke.  You just don’t go out and do it.  There’s a lot of construction work that will be done.  We need to make sure that the passenger rail doesn’t interfere with the freight service provided by Norfolk Southern.”

Design work will begin immediately and the downtown Roanoke rail connections are being reconfigured to improve the flow of train traffic through the city.  Passenger trains should start rolling again within 4 years.  In the meantime, Drake urges people to ride the Lynchburg train. . .

“That’s always very helpful to show the ridership and show the demand and to make sure that our passenger rail service in Virginia continues to operate very well as its done in the past.”

When the Roanoke leg begins, Amtrak will be able to offer same seat service to as far north as Boston.