Posts Tagged ‘Amtrak service to Roanoke’

Sked Change Set for Crescent, Roanoke Train

May 21, 2021

Amtrak will modify the schedules of some trains serving Roanoke, Virginia, and the New York-New Orleans Crescent.

Effective May 29 Train 156 will depart Roanoke 15 minutes later at 8:55 a.m.

The Crescent’s schedule will change on June 6. Train 19 will depart Washington at its current scheduled time and arrive in New Orleans at 9:02 p.m., which is two hours later than the current schedule

En route arrival and departure times will be adjusted accordingly.

Train 20 will depart New Orleans at 9:15 a.m., 2 hours and 15 minute later than the current schedule. It is being rescheduled to arrive in Washington at 1:45 p.m.

Amtrak said Train 20 will leave Washington at 2:42 p.m. Monday through Friday and at 2:12 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays.

Sleeping car passengers will continue to be offered breakfast upon leaving New Orleans and will now be offered dinner upon departing Philadelphia and Trenton.

In a service advisory, Amtrak said the changes are being made to improve customer satisfaction and on-time reliability.

NS, Virginia Reach Agreement on New Amtrak Route

May 10, 2021

Norfolk Southern and the state of Virginia recently reached an agreement that will extend Amtrak into the New River Valley region of the state.

The Western Rail Initiative is a $257.2 million project to extend an Amtrak Northeast Direct route beyond Roanoke, Virginia.

The funding includes $38.2 million for acquisition of 28.5 miles of right-of-way and track of the Virginian Line from the Salem Crossovers west of Roanoke to Merrimac in Christiansburg.

Another $219 million in infrastructure investments include improvements to the NS yard in Roanoke; a 7-mile siding from Nokesville to Calverton that will create a continuous two-track corridor for 22 miles from Manassas to Remington; signaling and track upgrades between Salem to Christiansburg; a maintenance facility and passenger platform; and infrastructure improvements along the Route 29/Interstate 81 corridor.

NS has agreed to allow Amtrak to add an additional round-trip train in 2022 between Roanoke and Washington.

Virginia officials said the Roanoke trains will be extended from Roanoke to Christiansburg upon completion of the infrastructure improvements in 2025.

Earlier this year. Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam signed legislation to create the New River Valley Passenger Rail Station Authority.

The agency will assist the commonwealth with the development of passenger rail service in the region.

It will be directed by a board consisting of members of each participating locality and institution of higher education.

The commonwealth plans to partner with the agency to fund the construction of a station building, parking and roadway access for the station.

Virginia Governor Seeks $50M for New Amtrak Service

February 18, 2021

A proposal by Virginia Governor Ralph Northam for a $50 million one-time general fund allocation for intercity passenger-rail service has heartened residents of the New River Valley region of the state.

Northam wants to use the funding to establish a rail passenger corridor along U.S. Route 29 and Interstate 81.

The proposal would add a second daily round trip to Roanoke and provide new service to the New River Valley.

If adopted, the plan would extend the current and new Roanoke service to the New River Valley.

Virginia transportation officials say they are negotiating with host railroad Norfolk Southern for the additional service.

The state said the existing Amtrak service to Roanoke has been “very successful,” with ridership increasing from its inception in 2009 to more than 220,000 riders in 2019.

The currentl single daily roundtrip between Washington and Roanoke is covering all of its operating costs through ticket revenue.

A feasibility study found the New River Valley has a population of more than 180,000, including more than 40,000 university students.

Ridership for intercity rail passenger service to the region was projected to draw 80,000 riders.

Rail passenger advocates are seeking to form the New River Valley Passenger Rail Authority to oversee the service.

“Clearly this is a step forward because having an authority for example will allow us to do certain things that we can’t otherwise do,” said advocate Larry Hincker about the governor’s funding request.

The authority would bring the local governments together under a state-recognized umbrella.

Roanoke Ridership Continues to Grow

February 22, 2019

Amtrak ridership in Roanoke, Virginia, grew by 9.5 percent between 2018 and 2018.

That stood in contrast to ridership at other cities, which declined during that same period.

Figures released by the Virginia Department of Rail and Public Transportation showed that ridership fell in Norfolk decreased by 1.5 percent by 2.2 percent in Newport News, by 8.4 percent in Richmond and by an overall 0.7 percent level for all state-funded trains.

The state’s statistics also showed that patronage of state-funded trains is 60 percent female with most passengers of either gender traveling primarily for pleasure.

Recent figures also show that ridership in Roanoke continue to grow, with more than 15,000 passengers in January. That is an 8 percent increase over ridership in January 2019.

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.

Virginia to Study Amtrak Expansion West of Roanoke

June 1, 2018

Virginia is studying expansion of Amtrak service west of Roanoke.

The Virginia Department of Rail and Public Transportation is expected to begin the study during fiscal year 2018-2019, which also will focus on service to the New River Valley.

The agency has budgeted $350,000 for the study, which will be undertaken in cooperation with Amtrak and Norfolk Southern

DRPT Director Jennifer Mitchell said the New River Valley/Bristol intercity passenger rail and operating capital funding application will conduct modeling analysis of passenger rail between Roanoke and Bristol, Virginia.

DRPT wants to incorporate two years of ridership data from Amtrak’s Roanoke extension, which began in October 2017, before further expansion is considered.

New River Valley residents and visitors currently travel can connect by bus to the Amtrak station in Roanoke.

Mitchell said NS has made improvements on parallel routes to add capacity as part of the Roanoke passenger extension.

Amtrak Carried 2,770 From Roanoke

December 18, 2017

During the first 30 days of service, Amtrak boarded 2,770 people in Roanoke, Virginia, which averages to 92 passengers per day.

Service to Roanoke began on Oct. 31 by extending a Northeast Regional train that terminated in Lynchburg, Virginia, to Roanoke.

Amtrak had forecast that ridership at Roanoke during the first year of service would be 38,000, an average of 104 passengers per day.

Amtrak spokeswoman Kimberly Woods said the carrier still expects to meet that projection, noting that ridership changes with the seasons.

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.