ROANOKE, Va. – Amtrak service will once again return to Roanoke, in three to four years. It has been 34 years since intercity passenger rail has served the city of Roanoke. The return of passenger rail to Roanoke is a result of the passage this past session of the General Assembly of Virginia's first major transportation funding plan in nearly three decades. Presently, the closest Amtrak service is to Lynchburg, 55 miles northeast.
"For many years, the citizens of Roanoke and the Valley have asked when intercity passenger rail will return," Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell says. "I am pleased to announce today that the Department of Rail and Public Transportation, through its partnership with Norfolk Southern, Amtrak and the City of Roanoke, will begin work on bringing service back to this historic railroad city. This achievement is a direct result of the bipartisan effort this past winter to pass Virginia's first major transportation funding plan in over a generation. We had gone far too long without investing the necessary resources in our roads and railways. This infrastructure is crucial to future job creation and economic growth in our state. With the passage of that bill, we're cutting a lot of ribbons. We're building new roads and railways all around the commonwealth. All of this will lead to new jobs for our citizens, and a more prosperous Virginia. And right here in Roanoke, it means the return of intercity passenger rail service to the Star City."
Work to bring Amtrak Virginia service to the city, as an extension of the highly-successful Lynchburg line, is anticipated to take between three and four years. Thelma Drake, director of the Department of Rail and Public Transportation, says, "Conceptual design work and rail capacity analysis is already underway. Work will be done by Norfolk Southern, Amtrak, and the city of Roanoke."
"This new service to Roanoke connects passengers to other areas of the commonwealth as well as cities along the Northeast Corridor," Amtrak President and CEO Joe Boardman says. "We offer travelers a safe, efficient, and reliable alternative that mitigates the effect of high gas prices and pervasive highway and airline congestion."
Virginia and Amtrak recently agreed to terms on the continuation of state-supported passenger service.