Posts Tagged ‘Roanoke Virginia’

Dome Car Excursions Set From Roanoke

October 6, 2017

Private dome cars excursions will be offered Nov. 11-13 on the soon-to-be extended Amtrak Northeast Regional service to Roanoke, Virginia.

The excursions are being hosted by the Virginia Museum of Transportation to raise money for maintenance expenses of Norfolk & Western steam locomotive No. 611. The steamer will not be involved in any of the excursions.

The trips will operate Nov. 11-13 between Roanoke and Washington.

Tickets, which go on sale today, will be sold as one-way tickets, allowing riders to choose which days they travel in each direction.

“This allows guests to choose what kind of trip works best for their travel,” the museum said on its website. “You may want to ride to Roanoke Friday evening and return Saturday, Sunday, or even Monday. Another option would be to rent a car on your return and drive the Blue Ridge Parkway.”

Tickets are $225 per person and include complimentary breakfast, lunch, and beverages. Each one-way trip lasts approximately five hours.

For more information: http://fireup611.org/excursions/potomac_arrow_fall2017/

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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.

Tickets on Sale for Roanoke Amtrak Service

September 7, 2017

Tickets are now on sale on the Amtrak website for service to Roanoke, Virginia, that is slated to begin on Oct. 31.

A coach ticket from Roanoke was selling for $72 to Washington, $148 to New York and $168 to Boston when traveling in mid November.

Amtrak is extending a Northeast Regional route to Roanoke, which last had Amtrak service in 1979.

The train will depart Roanoke at 6:19 a.m. Monday through Friday and at 8:40 a.m. on Saturday and Sunday. The train will return to Roanoke at 10 p.m.

The Northeast Regional train that will serve Roanoke currently terminates in Lynchburg.

West of Lynchburg the train will use Norfolk Southern tracks that are now freight only.

Since 2011, Valley Metro has operated a bus from Roanoke to the Lynchburg Amtrak station. In 2013, Amtrak began selling Thruway tickets to Roanoke.

To bring rail service to Roanoke, the Virginia Department of Rail and Public Transportation is paying about $103 million for capital improvements to the route, including construction of a boarding platform in downtown Roanoke.

Amtrak and local officials plan to conduct a welcoming ceremony in Roanoke on Oct. 30.

Roanoke Studying Parking Near Amtrak Station

July 21, 2017

Although Roanoke, Virginia, officials say there is ample parking in the vicinity of the new Amtrak station in town, much of it isn’t free.

Officials say some parking at or near the station will be free, but it is expected to fill up quickly just before the train leaves town early in the morning for Washington.

Two parking garages within walking distance of the station charge between $6 to $8 for each 24 hours used. However, those and some other municipally owned lots are unattended late at night, during which time it is possible to exit without paying.

Amtrak plans to begin serving Roanoke on Oct. 31. The station platform it will use is currently under construction.

A consultant hired by the city found two years ago that there are 1,755 parking spaces within a block or two of Norfolk Avenue between Jefferson and Second streets, where the Amtrak platform is located.

On a typical day, 877 of those spaces are taken by 11 a.m. Brian Townsend, an assistant city manager, said the parking situation is again under review.

“We understand the need to direct rail patrons to where parking is available,” Townsend said by email. “We are not certain, at this point, that it will be free parking as ownership, management, and availability at the various locations will be determining factors.”

Roanoke Service to Begin Oct. 31

July 19, 2017

Roanoke, Virginia, will rejoin the Amtrak network on Oct. 31.

Tickets are not yet being sold and the schedule has not yet been announced, but Roanoke will be served by an existing Northeast Regional train that will travel to and from Washington with continuing service to New York.

There is expected to be one roundtrip a day, leaving Roanoke at approximately 6:20 a.m. and returning before 10 p.m.

On Oct. 30, a publicity special will arrive at the Roanoke station, which is still under construction, at about noon for a ribbon cutting-type event.

Amtrak previously served Roanoke with The Hilltopper, which operated between Washington and Catlettsburg, Kentucky. That train made its last trips on Sept. 30, 1979.

Workers are constructing a boarding platform along Norfolk Avenue near the city bus station.

The finished station will feature a canopied boarding platform about 800 feet long. It will be a high-level platform.

Amtrak Crews Qualifying for Roanoke Service

June 6, 2017

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.”

Bristol Eyes Luring Amtrak to Come to Town

April 20, 2017

Public officials in Bristol, Virginia, plan to launch a study of what it would take to entice Amtrak to serve their region.

City officials plan to work with the Community Transportation Association of America in Washington to secure a consulting firm that will undertake a $450,000 economic benefit study of extending Amtrak’s Northeast Regional service from Roanoke, Virginia, to Bristol.

“We’re just about ready to prepare the RFP [request for proposals] for that study, and hopefully it will begin this summer,” CTAA spokesman Rich Sampson said Tuesday. “What we’re hoping our study will do is be a precursor to a second study, by demonstrating the need and the benefits of such a service. DRPT [Virginia Department of Rail and Public Transportation] would then do a study on the operational feasibility of the service.”

Amtrak expects to begin serving Roanoke later this year by extending a Northeast Regional train that now terminates in Lynchburg, Virginia.

Sampson said the state of Virginia is going to want two years of ridership data of the Roanoke service before it will participate in the Bristol study.

Bristol Mayor Bill Hartley said having Amtrak service would benefit his city in many ways.

“I look at what passenger rail could do for our downtown,” he said. “With two hotels, one hopefully opening this year, and the restaurants and entertainment, the infrastructure is there for people to come and make Bristol more of a destination.”

Some funding for the study will come from a $250,000 grant from the Virginia Tobacco Region Revitalization Commission, a $100,000 grant from the Appalachian Regional Commission and $50,000 each from the city and CTAA, with CTAA also providing services as an in-kind contribution.

Once it gets underway, the Bristol study is expected to take six to nine months to complete.

“Virginia is perhaps the leading state right now in investing in new Amtrak service,” Sampson said. “They have three examples of where they have or are going to install new service — the Lynchburg train, the Norfolk train and the extension to Roanoke. Tennessee has not had any state support for inter-city passenger rail, so their level of involvement and interest is uncertain at this point.”

Although Bristol leaders once talked about getting support for service further southward to Knoxville and Chattanooga, Tennessee, and then creating a connecting service to Atlanta and Louisville, those routes won’t be part of the expected study of extending service from Roanoke.

Sampson said that expansion to Tennessee point won’t happen unless rail service first comes to Bristol.

Last EB Hilltopper in Roanoke

February 14, 2017

hill-03

Amtrak will make a comeback in Roanoke, Virginia, some time within the next year or so.

There have been numerous passenger trains in the Virginia city in recent years, but they have been excursions pulled by Norfolk & Western J Class No. 611.

Amtrak served Roanoke between March 5, 1975, and Sept. 30, 1979.

Service initially was provided by the Chicago-Norfolk, Virginia, Mountaineer, which operated combined with the James Whitcomb Riley west of the Chesapeake & Ohio’s Russell Yard near Ashland, Kentucky.

Under pressure from West Virginia Senator Robert Byrd, Amtrak divorced the Mountaineer and Riley on April 24, 1977.

The Mountaineer became an independent train that operated between Cattlettsburg, Kentucky, and Washington, D.C., and was renamed the Hilltopper.

Low patronage made the Hilltopper an easy target to be discontinued during the 1979 Amtrak route restructuring. It made its final trips on Sept. 30.

The eastbound Hilltopper had three passenger cars tacked on the rear for part of its journey.

The cars, owned by the Roanoke Chapter of the National Railway Historical Society, were removed at Roanoke.

Roanoke Station Platform Work Begins

February 14, 2017

Construction began this week on the platform to be used by Amtrak in Roanoke, Virginia. The project is expected to take 300 days to complete.

Amtrak 4Roanoke is expected to gain Amtrak service through an extension of an existing Northeast Regional train. Service will be a daily roundtrip to Washington that departs in the morning and returns in the evening.

Service is projected to begin in October after the station work is completed. The Roanoke station is expected to cost $10.9 million.

The city best known as the former headquarters of the Norfolk & Western Railway, has not had intercity rail service since the Oct. 1, 1979, discontinuance of the Hilltopper.

In other Amtrak station news, work on the Union Station in Raleigh, North Carolina, is reported to be on schedule with half of the project already completed.

The facility will serve Amtrak trains and regional buses.

The capital of North Carolina is the northern terminus of the state-funded Piedmont trains and is also a stop for the New York-Charlotte Carolinian and the New York-Miami Silver Star.

The station will be located at the end of Martin Street on a site that once had an empty warehouse.

Union Station is projected to open in January 2018. The cost of the project is $90 million with the city paying about $15 million and the balance being funded by state and federal grants.

FRA Southeastern Regional Rail Service Study May Lead to Restoring Chicago-Florida Service

January 7, 2017

Discussions about establishing a Jacksonville, Florida, to Nashville, Tennessee, intercity rail corridor are being seen as a precursor for linking Chicago and the Southeast by rail again.

Amtrak 3The discussion is part of the Southeast Regional Rail Plan study being undertaken by the Federal Railroad Administration.

Other routes being discussed include creating connections from existing Amtrak service to Ashville and Wilmington, North Carolina; and the North Carolina and South Carolina beaches and tourist destinations.

The study also is looking at opportunities for other east-west corridors, including those that might connect northward, e.g., Petersburg-Lynchburg, Virginia; Roanoke-Bristol, Virginia;  Knoxville-Nashville, Tennessee; and Nashville- Memphis, Tennessee.

A focus of the study is finding ways to bring service to college towns and their high concentration of frequent travelers.

Amtrak’s Floridian linked Chicago and Florida until being discontinued in October 1979.

There was direct service between Chicago and the Southeast in the middle to late 1980s and the early 1980s when through cars operated on the Capitol Limited and Silver Star via a connection in Washington.

In a related development, Amtrak said it expects to begin service between Lynchburg and Roanoke this fall provided that adequate station facilities are finished in Roanoke by that time.

The service will be funded by the State of Virginia and is an extension of a Northeast Regional service train that now originates in Lynchburg. Roanoke lost Amtrak service on Oct. 1, 1979, when the Catlettsburg (Kentucky)-Washington Hilltopper was discontinued.

The Virgnia Department of Rail is studying funding another train from Washington to Lynchburg that might be extended to Roanoke.

In another development, construction of a union station in Raleigh, North Carolina, recently passed the halfway point and is expected to open in early 2018.

Work began in May 2015 for the $90 million facility that will be served by Amtrak and Go Triangle bus service.

Once completed, Raleigh Union Station will have restaurants and shops and provide a venue for events.

Raleigh is served by the North Carolina-funded Piedmonts between Raleigh and Charlotte, the New York-Charlotte Carolinan, and the New York-Miami Silver Star.