Amtrak Crews Qualifying for Roanoke Service

Amtrak crews are making non-revenue runs over Norfolk Southern tracks between Lynchburg and Roanoke, Virginia, to become qualified on the line.

Service is expected to begin this fall by extending an existing Northeast Regional service roundtrip to Roanoke.

The Virginia Department of Rail and Public Transportation will fund the service. Efforts to restore Amtrak service to Roanoke have been ongoing for four years.

Roanoke was last served by the Hilltopper, which was discontinued on Oct. 1, 1979. That train operated between New York and Catlettsburg, Kentucky.

The route of the planned service to Roanoke will use a different route than the Hilltopper.

The latter train operated via Peterburg and Richmond, Virginia, whereas the Northeast Regional service will use the route of the New York-New Orleans Crescent north of Lynchburg via Charlottesville.

The service to Roanoke will be the fourth expansion of intercity passenger rail in the Commonwealth of Virginia since 2009 following new or additional trains to Lynchburg, Richmond, and Norfolk.

“The effort to expand rail options in Virginia has been made possible by the Commonwealth’s more than $100 million strategic investment in Norfolk Southern’s rail infrastructure, which makes this intercity passenger service extension possible,” Amtrak said in a statement. “Amtrak and DRPT continue a partnership to provide more intercity passenger rail travel in Virginia. Instead of driving on congested highway corridors like I-81, Route 29, I-95, and Route 460, travelers can use rail as a way to expand mobility and increase connectivity for travel throughout the regions served along the Northeast Corridor.”

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