Virginia agrees to pay more for Amtrak service

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RICHMOND, Fla. – The commonwealth of Virginia has agreed to assume more financial responsibility for Amtrak regional service in the state. The new agreement will cost the state $40-50 million. More state participation in bearing the cost of passenger service was a key provision of Passenger Rail Investment and Improvement Act of 2008 and has to be in place by Oct. 1, 2013.

Virginia presently supports services from Washington to Lynchburg, Newport News, and Norfolk. Eventually, service may be extended to Roanoke and Bristol.

The Virginia legislature had passed legislation authorizing intercity rail support, but, until this year’s session, had not provided funding. The money for the new Virginia-Amtrak partnership will come from state sales tax revenue.

Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell says more than 1.5 million passengers board trains or disembark from them in the state. “Stopping regional Amtrak service in the commonwealth was not an option. … I’m pleased that Virginia was the first state able to sign this agreement,” McDonnell said.

Amtrak President and CEO Joe Boardman praises Virginia as a forward-thinking leader among the affected states. He says Virginia “recognizes the value, mobility and economic development that Amtrak service brings to the state and local communities.”
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