Northam, Buttigieg announce $3.7B deal to expand passenger rail in Virginia

Governor Ralph Northam announced Tuesday that Virginia has finalized agreements with Amtrak, CSX, and Virginia Railway Express, launching a $3.7 billion investment.
The investment will expand and improve passenger, commuter, and freight rail in the state and create a vital connection in America’s national rail network between the Northeast and Southeast corridors.
“We have an unprecedented opportunity to build a 21st-century rail system in Virginia and along the entire East Coast,” said Northam. “This historic initiative will help get people and goods where they need to go more efficiently, reduce congestion and pollution, and create a more inclusive economy. Together with our partners at Amtrak, CSX, and VRE, we are making critical investments that will fundamentally transform our transportation infrastructure, delivering long-term economic benefits for our workers and communities as we rebound from the pandemic and into the future.”
Northam was joined by U.S. Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg where he highlighted the American Rescue Plan recently passed by Congress and signed into law by President Joe Biden.

The American Rescue Plan includes $1.7 billion to get Amtrak employees furloughed due to the pandemic back to work, restore daily long-distance service, and help states cover lost revenue in state-supported routes.

It also includes critical funding for transit and rail networks and to keep people connected to jobs, health care, and essential needs and services during the pandemic.
“As President Biden has said—help is here. The American Rescue Plan is providing more than $43.2 billion to support our nation’s transportation needs and our workers during the pandemic,” said Buttigieg. “The plan is helping Amtrak bring back more than 1,200 furloughed employees and restore service to 12 routes. And more broadly, this funding will help transportation providers across the nation avoid layoffs and help support workers who have been on the front lines delivering vaccines, getting people to essential jobs, and getting essential goods to wherever they need to go.”
The finalization of the agreements will allow construction to advance on significant rail infrastructure projects in Virginia.
Over the next ten years, this partnership will:

  • Double Virginia-supported Amtrak trains providing nearly hourly service
  • Increase VRE commuter service by 60%
  • Lay the foundation for a Southeast High-Speed Rail Corridor
  • Preserve an existing freight corridor between Doswell and Clifton Forge for future east-west passenger service
  • Create the potential to expand rail to all parts of the state

“Amtrak is thrilled to be supporting this game-changing rail investment program as an investor and partner,” said Amtrak CEO Bill Flynn. “Virginia is a model for the nation in recognizing the role passenger rail plays in connecting people and economies. Expanding our state-supported intercity corridors gives us greater opportunities to meaningfully address the carbon crisis and enhance mobility as our population continues to grow.”
“CSX is pleased to finalize this innovative agreement with the Commonwealth of Virginia that will benefit both passenger rail service and our freight rail customers,” said CSX President and CEO James M. Foote. “CSX appreciates the collaboration with Virginia Department of Rail and Public Transportation and the support of our federal partners, and we look forward to implementing the agreement that addresses commuter traffic challenges in the I-95 corridor while preserving and enhancing our ability to grow freight volumes safely and efficiently.”

Marco Harmon

I was born and raised in Roanoke, VA. I studied Communications Studies at Roanoke College, and I’ve been part of the news industry ever since. Visiting my favorite downtown Roanoke bars and restaurants with my friends is how I spend most of my free time when I'm not at the desk.

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