Posts Tagged ‘Amtrak in Virginia’

Roanoke Ridership Meeting Expectations

June 28, 2018

Amtrak said recently that ridership of its Northeast Regional service to Roanoke, Virginia, has met expectations.

Since service began last late last October, 14,178 passengers have boarded the once daily train in Roanoke through April 30. The service has seen 13,591 passengers travel to Roanoke, which lost Amtrak service on Oct. 1, 1979, when the Hilltopper was discontinued.

Until the service was restored, many in the Roanoke region had traveled to Lexington, Virginia, to board Amtrak.

Ridership from Lexington has fallen since Amtrak began operating to Roanoke.

Statistics kept by the state of Virginia, which helps fund the service, shows that the record ridership from Roanoke was 3,288 in December with 2,941 traveling to the city.

This past April, ridership was 2,343 arriving and 2,327 departing.

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Driver of Trash Truck Struck by Amtrak Special in Virginia Indicted for Being Under the Influence

June 8, 2018

The driver of a trash truck that was struck, by an Amtrak special in Virginia in January has been indicted for being under the influence at the time of the collision.

The Amtrak special was carrying dozens of Republican congressmen to a retreat in West Virginia. One employee of the trash-hauling company died in the collision near Crozet, Virginia.

The Albemarle County Police Department said in a statement that 31-year-old Dana W. Naylor Jr. was indicted on one count of involuntary manslaughter and one count of maiming another while driving under the influence. It’s not clear what the alleged intoxicant was.

A second passenger of the trash truck was seriously injured. No one aboard the train suffered serious injuries.

Virginia Wants More Service to Richmond

May 22, 2018

The Virginia Department of Rail and Public Transportation wants to see additional Amtrak service between Washington and Richmond, Virginia.

To provide that service, the agency said that two new tracks need to be constructed between Washington and Arlington, Virginia, after separate plans for an expanded Long Bridge are completed.

The Federal Railroad Administration and the District of Columbia Department of Transportation are expected to recommended a design and layout for the project later this year.

The recommendation for increased service to Richmond, which would also include an increase in service provided by Virginia Railway Express, was presented to  a Commonwealth Transportation Board subcommittee.

Signal Work Affects Richmond Trains

March 16, 2018

Signal work being performed by CSX will result in delays of 45 to 120 minutes for all trains arriving and departing Staples Mills station in Richmond, Virginia.

In a service advisory, Amtrak said that on March 26 the Carolinian will operate between only Rocky Mount and Charlotte, North  Carolina. No service will be provided at stations between New York and Rocky Mount.

The Palmetto will operate between New York and Washington only. Service will not be available at any station served by the Palmetto south of Washington.

On March 27, the Carolinian will again operate only between  Rocky Mount and Charlotte with service canceled between New York and Rocky Mount  and no alternate transportation provided.

Other trains will be affected by the signal work on March 26 as follows:

  • Train 67 will terminate at Washington with no alternate transportation provided between Washington and Newport News.
  • Train 94 will originate at Richmond Staples Mills station with no alternate transportation between Newport News and Richmond.
  • Train 85 will terminate at Washington with no alternate transportation between Washington and Richmond.
  • Train 84 will depart Norfolk at 6 am and operate 10 minutes earlier through its arrival in Richmond. Normal schedules will resume from Richmond to New York.
  • Train 66 will originate in Washington with no alternate transportation between Newport News and Washington.
  • Train 125 will terminate at Washington with no alternate transportation provided between Washington and Norfolk.
  • All other trains will operate normally

Trains will operate on 27 as follows:

  • Train 66 will originate at Richmond with no alternate transportation provided between Newport News and Richmond.
  • Train 67 will terminate at Richmond with no alternate transportation provided between Richmond and Newport News.
  • Train 84 will originate at Washington with no alternate transportation between Norfolk and Washington.
  • Train 174 will originate at Washington with no alternate transportation between Richmond and Washington.
  • All other trains will operate normally.

Virginia Group Calls for Increased Rail Service

January 17, 2018

A Virginia rail passenger advocacy group is seeking to triple the number of trains serving Norfolk, Virginia.

A report released by Virginians for High Speed Rail calls for increasing the number of Amtrak trains departing Norfolk each day from one to 11. Nine of those new frequencies would operate at 90 mph to Washington, which would reduce the current travel time by an hour.

The State of Virginia recently said it plans to fund another roundtrip to Norfolk in 2019 and a third roundtrip in 2022.

The report by the passenger advocacy group said increasing rail service would reduce traffic congestion, cut pollution and grow the economy.

Also in the report is a proposal to instigate rail service to Virginia Tech University in Blacksburg and Radford University in Radford.

In their report, the Virginia group said that before service can be increased scheduling and technology issues must be addressed.

 

Parking Increases at Staple Mill Station

January 17, 2018

Expansion of parking at an Amtrak station in Richmond, Virginia, has added 115 spaces to the facility at Staples Mill Road is now complete.

The project began last August and increase capacity of the parking lot to 403 spaces. Work is underway to add another 200 parking spaces at the station.

“The completion of this phase is indicative of the Commonwealth’s commitment to giving our citizens travel options, and that includes our Staples Mill passengers as we continue construction on our parking lot expansion project. These additional parking spaces will enhance the Amtrak customer experience while we continue to work towards completion,” said Virginia Department of Rail and Public Transportation Director Jennifer Mitchell.

Roanoke Eyes Building Amtrak Station

November 20, 2017

Now that Amtrak is serving Roanoke, Virginia, the city is now talking about building a train station.

Roanoke City Manager Robert Cowell said a deal is not imminent, but the city council has meet four times in secret sessions to discuss transit facilities, including acquisition of property to build a new mass-transit passenger center that could serve Amtrak.

“It’s a pretty fairly complex set of questions that the council is really wrestling with, never mind how to pay for any of this,” Cowell said.

Roanoke city buses are currently served by the Campbell Court bus station, which belongs to Valley Metro, and is located 250 feet from the railroad tracks used by Amtrak.

The three-floor facility is largely vacant and described as antiquated.

One idea being floated in the city is to build a multi-modal facility near the tracks and repurpose Campbell Court into stores, offices and housing.

The city had budgeted $4.5 million for the intermodal station project, which is less than half of what a consultant estimated the facility would cost.

Valley Metro does not own any land adjacent to the railroad tracks used by Amtrak.

City council member David Trinkle said the council is looking at creating a public-private partnership. “There’s just no way that facility is going to be built without that,” he said.

The council has justified its closed door meetings to discuss the proposed intermodal facility as consideration of the purchase of “real property” for public use or the “disposition” of the 13 real estate parcels that make up Campbell Court, or both, according to a purpose statement for the meetings.

The council has cited a clause in Virginia’s open meetings law that allows for when meeting publicly would “adversely affect” its bargaining power or negotiating strategy.

The Roanoke Times reported that there are four obvious locations for a train and bus station near the tracks.

These properties immediately adjacent to the Amtrak boarding platform include a renovated buildings known as Warehouse Row, which are leased to tenants; the Roanoke Station Garage, a parking deck; the surface parking lot across from Campbell Court operated by Tennessee-based Premier Parking; and the corner of Jefferson Street and Norfolk Avenue, occupied by multiple commercial buildings with tenants.

Amtrak Begins Service in Roanoke

November 1, 2017

Amtrak returned to Roanoke, Virginia, on Tuesday when more than 150 passengers aboard Northeast Regional No. 176 departed at 6:19 a.m.

Many of the riders traveled to Lynchburg, Virginia, and returned by bus.

It was the first scheduled Amtrak departure from the hometown of the former Norfolk & Western Railway in 38 years.

A welcome ceremony was held on Monday afternoon and featured tours of a five-car special that included Amtrak business car Beech Grove.

The Amtrak station is located on Norfolk Avenue in the city’s downtown. The Commonwealth of Virginia pays for the service between Roanoke and Washington.

Roanoke’s last Amtrak service was the Hilltopper, which operated between Washington and Catlettsburg, Kentucky. It made its last runs on Sept. 30, 1979.

In Roanoke, Amtrak equipment will overnight at a facility with a small crew office along the ex-N&W Roanoke to Winston-Salem branch, close to the former Virginian Railway depot.

SmartWay Connector buses will shuttle passengers between the Roanoke station and Salem and Blacksburg.

Roanoke Set to Welcome Back Amtrak, Bedford Wants to be a Station on the New Route

October 27, 2017

A welcome ceremony to celebrate Amtrak’s return to Roanoke, Virginia, will be held on Monday on the new boarding platform.

The event will feature speeches by Sen. John Edwards, D-Roanoke, who championed the project, members of the Roanoke City Council and Gov. Terry McAuliffe.

The ceremony and a ribbon-cutting are scheduled at 12:20 p.m.

At 1:30 p.m., the platform and train will open for tours. Regular service will begin on Oct. 31.

In a related development, authorities in the Bedford, Virginia, area are making a push to get Amtrak service.

On Nov. 9 they plan to hold a rally to show Amtrak and state leaders their interest in reviving rail passenger service to the region.

“We just want to show, at the state level and Amtrak, that there is support for this stop,” said Susan Martin, president and CEO of the Bedford Area Chamber of Commerce.

The Virginia Department of Rail and Public Transportation began surveying the town for a train station years ago.

Bedford is located on the route of the soon to be launched Amtrak Northeast Regional Service to Roanoke.

Like Roanoke, it was served by Amtrak until 1979 when the Hilltopper was discontinued.

The former Norfolk & Western station in Bedford has since been converted into a restaurant, but its owner, Harry Leist says the potential for more folks in his restaurant is a positive.

“When you increase activity, it’s a trickle-down effect, if I may use that term, and everyone benefits from it,” Leist said.

The New York-bound train is scheduled to pass through Bedford at 6:55 a.m. The Next Stop Bedford rally is set to begin at 6:30 a.m. at the proposed site of the Bedford stop.

NS to Study Extending Amtrak in Virginia

September 28, 2017

A study will be conducted by Norfolk Southern of the feasibility of extending Amtrak service west of Roanoke, Virginia, to Christiansburg in the New River Valley.

The area is located near Virginia Tech University in Blacksburg. The study is being funded by $350,000 from the Virginia Commonwealth Transportation Board.

“With the concentration of students both at Virginia Tech and Radford this makes a lot sense for the region,” said Ray Smoot, chair of NRV 2020 and a former Virginia Tech administrator. “I think a lot of the ridership [out of Roanoke] will come from here.”

NRV 2020 favors locating a station in Christiansburg near the Aquatic Center.

Amtrak is slated to begin serving Roanoke on Oct. 31 by extending a Northeast Regional train that now terminated in Lynchburg, Virginia.

NRV 2020 conducted a 2015 study that estimated that service to the New River Valley would draw 40,000 passenger trips a year to cities such as like Lynchburg and Washington.