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Home / News & Reviews / News Wire / Virginia, Norfolk Southern complete agreement allowing passenger service to New River Valley

Virginia, Norfolk Southern complete agreement allowing passenger service to New River Valley

By | July 5, 2022

Financing closes for $257 million agreement, reached in 2021, that also allows second Roanoke train

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Train at station platform at night
Train at station platform at night
Northeast Regional train 176 prepares to depart Roanoke, Va., on Nov. 9, 2017. Financing has closed on the deal allowing a second daily round trip serving Roanoke, as well as extension of service to the New River Valley. (Bob Johnston)

RICHMOND, Va., and ATLANTA — The Virginia Passenger Rail Authority and Norfolk Southern have completed financing on the agreement which will expand passenger service to Roanoke, Va., and extend service southwest into the New River Valley.

The Western Rail Initiative Agreement sets the stage for the launch of a second daily Amtrak round trip between Roanoke and Washington, D.C., set to begin July 11 [see “Amtrak adds additional daily service …,” Trains News Wire, June 22, 2022]. It includes Virginia’s purchase of 28 miles of right-of-way including existing track between Christiansburg and crossovers in Salem, Va., an easement between those crossovers and the Roanoke station; track and signal improvements between Manassas and the New River Valley, and a new station planned for Bedford, Va., as well as in the Christiansburg area.

The $257 million deal was originally announced in 2021 [see “Virginia, Norfolk Southern reach agreement …,” News Wire, May 5, 2021].

“The closing of the Western Rail Agreement is great news for Virginians as this is a big step forward in our mission to expand passenger rail to the New River Valley,” DJ Stadtler, executive director of the passenger authority, said in a press release, adding that “the improvements will also increase our economic opportunities by enhancing freight rail service through the Commonwealth.”

Mike McClellan, Norfolk Southern senior vice president and chief strategy officer, said, “Together, we have reached an agreement that expands access for passengers and preserves an important link in the supply chain for businesses that rely on freight rail to ship base materials and finished products.”



2 thoughts on “Virginia, Norfolk Southern complete agreement allowing passenger service to New River Valley

  1. Incentives to benefit freight railways can encourage the expansion of passenger train service and routes. The expansion of the route between Washington and Roanoke that hosted three principle passenger trains in the middle 20th century including the New York – Birmingham “Birmingham Special”, the New York – New Orleans “Pelican” and the streamlined (until mid-1950s) Washington – Memphis “Tennessean” is a gradual restoration of the latter’s (the “Tennessean”) route.

  2. This shows that with the right incentives freight railroads can agree to provide room for passenger trains. It is nice that they also mention local freight customers will also benefit from the improvements.

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