Second passenger train to Norfolk will help ease highway congestion, increase multimodal options, and boost economic vitality for Virginia
Richmond, VA – Hampton Roads citizens will soon have more options to avoid traffic and congestion in tunnels and on Interstates 64 and 95 with the Monday, March 4, debut of a second Amtrak train service serving Norfolk, Secretary of Transportation Shannon Valentine announced today.
“Additional passenger rail service enables more Virginians to avoid the hassle of congestion and tunnels by offering more frequent and reliable travel between Hampton Roads, Richmond and Washington, D.C.,” Secretary of Transportation Shannon Valentine said. “Governor Northam and I remain committed to the continued growth of multimodal transportation options for all Virginians.”
“The new service to Hampton Roads offers new travel options as well as schedule changes that will improve the performance for these trains, said Jennifer Mitchell, Director of the Department of Rail and Public Transportation. “None of this would be possible without our close and valued partnerships with Amtrak, CSX, Norfolk Southern, and the Cities of Norfolk and Newport News.”
The second daily roundtrip train to Norfolk is scheduled to begin Monday, March 4, 2019. It is part of Amtrak’s Northeast Regional train service connecting the Commonwealth to the northeast, offering customers a same-seat trip to and from 16 Virginia stations to Washington, D.C., Baltimore, Philadelphia, New York City, Boston and other destinations. Details regarding schedules and ticket sales are forthcoming.
“Train service is a vital alternative in the Commonwealth’s overall transportation solution,” said Joe McHugh, Vice President, State-Supported Business Development for Amtrak. “We look forward to continuing our partnership with DRPT and other cities to further expand rail service.”
The addition of service to Norfolk also comes with the announcement of the substantial completion of major construction work at CSX’s Acca Yard in Richmond. The on-time, on-budget completion of the $132 million project now enables Amtrak trains traveling between Richmond’s Main Street and Staples Mill Stations to bypass CSX freight trains, substantially decreasing travel time for both Amtrak and CSX customers across the entire Commonwealth.
As part of the Commonwealth’s investment in Acca Yard, CSX also granted additional capacity on its network between Richmond and Petersburg to allow for the additional Amtrak service to Norfolk. Details on the CSX Acca Yard project can be found here: https://www.csx.com/index.cfm/about-us/projects-and-partnerships/virginia-capacity-projects/
“CSX is pleased to work with the Commonwealth to complete this series of rail capacity projects on time and under budget,” said Anne Reinke, Vice President of Government Affairs for CSX. “Improving rail traffic flow in and around Richmond will benefit rail passengers and freight customers alike, and will better position the region to capture economic growth opportunities.”
Norfolk Southern was also a key partner in bringing the existing and new Norfolk passenger rail routes online. Inaugural Amtrak train service to Norfolk began in 2012 and marked the first passenger train out of the city since 1977. As part of the Commonwealth’s initial investment in Norfolk Southern’ s network between Petersburg and Norfolk, NS in turn granted additional capacity to allow for current and future Amtrak service to Norfolk.
The new Hampton Roads passenger rail service also includes optimized schedule changes to and from both Norfolk and Newport News stations. In addition to the second mid-morning departure and early-evening arrival to Norfolk, Newport News customers will also have the benefit of an early-morning departure and early-evening arrival, providing all Hampton Roads customers additional daily options to get Washington, D.C. and back.
The optimized schedule also brings these new connectivity options to Ettrick, Williamsburg, and Richmond’s Main Street and Staples Mill Stations.
Officials with the cities of Norfolk and Newport News expressed strong support over the improved service to the Hampton Roads region.
"The expansion of the passenger rail will continue to optimize travel, for business and leisure, to and from Norfolk, and will assist with propelling the city and the region to prosperity," said Norfolk Mayor Kenneth Cooper Alexander.
“We are very excited about this additional Amtrak service to the region, and the revised schedules for the peninsula that will allow expanded day trips to Richmond and Washington. Along with our new multimodal transportation center, currently in the design phase, the improved passenger rail service will offer our residents more options and better facilities for travel in Virginia and the northeast,” said McKinley Price, Mayor, City of Newport News.
Today’s announcement is the next chapter of Virginia’s enormously successful commitment to growing passenger rail services across the state. The Commonwealth’s initial investment in support of Amtrak began over a decade ago when it stepped up to save the Newport News service. Since then, four Governors from both parties have launched the nation’s most successful state-supported service to Lynchburg in 2009, brought one train to Norfolk in 2012, worked with the General Assembly to create the Intercity Passenger Rail Operating and Capital Fund, and returned passenger rail to Roanoke in 2018.