Agreement created to increase passenger rail assistance to southwest Virginia

ROANOKE, Va. (WDBJ/Governor’s Business office Release) – The Commonwealth of Virginia has finalized a definitive agreement with Norfolk Southern Company to broaden passenger rail service to the New River Valley for the first time since 1979, according to Governor Ralph Northam.

The Western Rail Initiative expands passenger rail company to the New River Valley and enhances the state’s $3.7 billion Reworking Rail in Virginia application, the Commonwealth’s roadmap for building a 21st-century rail network, in accordance to Northam. The settlement was executed immediately after authorization from the Virginia Passenger Rail Authority Board of Directors.

Reworking Rail in Virginia is an financial investment not only in our rail technique, but also in the people and enterprises along the corridor and in the New River Valley,” said Northam.Collectively with our partners at Norfolk Southern, we are making important enhancements that modernize our transportation infrastructure and link communities across the Commonwealth. We glance ahead to continuing this crucial operate to enable go folks and items competently, decrease congestion and pollution, gasoline tourism, and push economic development.”

The initiative will include a second state-supported round-trip teach in between Roanoke and Boston later this yr, and will be extended to the New River Valley on completion of a new station, observe and signal advancements, in accordance to Northam. The arrangement also enables for a 3rd practice to operate in the long run concerning Roanoke and the New River Valley.

The expanded intercity rail services, developed to produce economic rewards and provide extra multimodal alternatives for travelers together the Interstate 81 and Route 29 corridor, is predicted to add about 80,000 passengers in the initially calendar year following assistance is prolonged to the New River Valley, explained Northam.

In an settlement with Norfolk Southern, the Commonwealth is acquiring somewhere around 28 miles of the Norfolk Southern-owned “V line” appropriate-of-way and current tracks from Christiansburg to the Salem Crossovers, additionally a passenger rail easement amongst the Salem Crossovers and the Amtrak Roanoke station system. Norfolk Southern will continue on to supply freight services on the line.

In addition, Northam claimed, the Commonwealth will invest in infrastructure advancements amongst Manassas and the Roanoke Lawn to enhance the dependability of passenger rail support above Norfolk Southern Railway-owned ideal-of-way.

The acquisition and infrastructure enhancements are partially funded by contributions from the I-81 Corridor Multimodal Improvements Fund, Commonwealth Rail funds, and the Common Assembly’s 2021 Transportation Initiatives. The Commonwealth anticipates reaching economical close with Norfolk Southern in mid-2022, according to Northam.

The finalization of the agreement makes it possible for building to progress on rail infrastructure projects alongside the corridor between Manassas and the New River Valley, resulting in “more regular and much more trustworthy passenger rail provider,” claimed Northam.

“This settlement with the Commonwealth of Virginia is a fantastic case in point of governing administration and company partnership,” mentioned James A. Squires, Chairman and CEO of Norfolk Southern. “Together, we have created a route ahead to improve passenger rail support and assure that freight rail customers proceed to transfer the items that ability our economy. Importantly, this will produce economic dividends from Northern to Southwest Virginia, equally by way of the required infrastructure advancements and more use of the rail traces.”

“The Commonwealth’s historic financial investment in this region’s passenger rail network is a considerable milestone in our dedication to elevating the financial competitiveness of Southwest Virginia,” reported Secretary of Transportation Shannon Valentine, who led the legislative energy to start the to start with state-supported passenger train anchored in Lynchburg. “This cooperative agreement builds on the highly-successful passenger rail assistance in the corridor and boosts vital connectivity to the New River Valley with the rest of Virginia, adding further transportation solutions for the region’s inhabitants, visitors and college pupils alike.”

Amtrak regional day-to-day support in southwest Virginia started in October 2009 with a person spherical trip involving Lynchburg and Washington, DC. During the 1st 12 months of operations, ridership far more than tripled projections, in accordance to the governor. In November 2017, the Commonwealth expanded service to Roanoke.

Like the current condition-supported Roanoke coach, the 2nd prepare, for which service is predicted to start in 2022, will serve Alexandria, Burke Centre, Manassas, Culpeper, Charlottesville, Lynchburg and Roanoke, and travel to and from Washington, DC, and Amtrak’s Northeast Corridor.

The agreement also acknowledges the opportunity for a foreseeable future station in Bedford.

“VPRA was designed specifically to individual and receive rail infrastructure across the Commonwealth that aligns with Virginia’s transportation plans and procedures to advance Virginia businesses, bring in a 21st century workforce, and boost balanced communities the place Virginians of all ages and abilities can thrive,” said Jennifer Mitchell, VPRA Board Chair. “We worth our partnership with Norfolk Southern and search ahead to employing this settlement with them to boost and develop passenger rail services.”

Copyright 2022 WDBJ. All rights reserved.

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