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Rail News: Passenger Rail

NS, Virginia finalize Western Rail Initiative pact


Norfolk Southern Corp. and the Virginia Passenger Rail Authority yesterday closed on the Western Rail Initiative Agreement to expand passenger-rail service to Roanoke, Virginia, and the New River Valley.

The agreement calls for the launch of a second roundtrip train between Roanoke and Washington, D.C., on July 11. The train will connect Virginia's Blue Ridge region with Northern Virginia and points along the Northeast Corridor, including New York City and Boston. The agreement also calls for a future extension of the Roanoke service to the New River Valley along with the construction of a new station and improvements to track and signals.

Virginia anticipates the addition of nearly 80,000 passengers in the first year once the route is extended to the valley, NS officials said in a press release.

"Communities along the Interstate 81 and Route 29 corridors will now have more passenger-rail options when traveling to and from our nation’s capital and beyond, and the improvements will also increase our economic opportunities by enhancing freight-rail service [in Virginia]," said VPRA Executive Director DJ Stadtler.

The state will acquire nearly 28 miles of NS-owned "V-line" right of way, including existing tracks from Christiansburg to the Salem Crossovers, and a passenger easement. The state will also support rail infrastructure upgrades between Manassas and the valley for more frequent and reliable service.

The new roundtrip train will make stops in Alexandria, Manassas, Culpeper, Charlottesville and Lynchburg. A future station is planned in Bedford.

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

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