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Virginia senators request federal grant to help fund new Amtrak rail cars

Virginia is one of 27 states and regional authorities to fund Amtrak's state-sponsored lines of service.
Photo – Amtrak


U.S. Sens. Mark Warner and Tim Kaine (both D-Va.) have written to the U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) in support of Virginia's joint application with Amtrak for matching funds to improve passenger-rail service.

Virginia is pushing for funding under the USDOT's Federal-State Partnership for State of Good Repair Program to retire many of Amtrak's existing rail cars, many of which are more than 40 years old.

"Maintaining and repairing current equipment is costly in terms of both safety and efficiency. New rail cars will provide safer, better, and more reliable mobility," the senators wrote in their letter to U.S. Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao. "This funding, in conjunction with Virginia's numerous high priority passenger rail projects, will help make state-sponsored service a more reliable and pleasant transportation alternative."

Virginia is one of 27 states and regional authorities to fund Amtrak's state-sponsored lines of service, which account for nearly half of the railroad's total ridership nationwide, the senators noted in their letter.

Currently, the Virginia Department of Rail and Public Transportation administers state funding for six daily Amtrak Northeast Regional round trips and connecting Virginians to stops along the Northeast Corridor.

In federal fiscal-year 2019, more than 924,000 people used the service — the highest number in the Virginia commonwealth's history, Warner and Kaine wrote.

Pending award of the federal grant and action by the Commonwealth Transportation Board, Virginia is prepared to commit another $15 million in state funding and $32.5 million in Amtrak revenue to the rail-car replacement project, they added.

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

More News from 1/14/2020