FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
July 12, 2017
Danny Plaugher – 804-864-5193
Bi-partisan Coalition of Virginia Legislators Ask Our Congressional Delegation to Fund Amtrak’s National Network
Richmond – A bi-partisan coalition of 52 members of the Virginia House of Delegates and Senate sent a letter to the Commonwealth’s Congressional delegation asking them to fund Amtrak’s National Trains which have been zeroed out in President Donald Trump’s FY 2018 federal budget.
The cuts, if enacted, would eliminate the Cardinal, the Crescent, the Silver Star, the Silver Meteor, the Palmetto, and the Auto Train—a total of 48 percent of Virginia’s Amtrak service. Staunton, Clifton Forge, Lorton, and Danville would lose 100 percent of their passenger rail service; Charlottesville, Culpeper, and Manassas 66 percent; Petersburg 60 percent; Lynchburg 50 percent; Alexandria 42 percent; and Richmond, Fredericksburg, and Quantico 33 percent.
According to research by Virginians for High Speed Rail, the loss of those trains would add over 714,000 additional trips and 87 million more potential passenger miles to our roadways, lead to the burning of 4 million additional gallons of fuel, and cause the release of 79 million additional pounds of CO2 annually. It would also result in the reduction of an estimated $89.4 million in annual tourism spending and 909 tourism related jobs.
The letter championed by House Speaker William Howell and House Minority Leader David Toscano states “…we wish to express our opposition to the cuts to rail transportation funding in the proposed federal budget for FY 2018, which would zero out funding for long-distance Amtrak trains, several of which are frequently utilized by our constituents.” They further write “It’s clear to us that Virginians want more passenger rail, not less”.
Trip Pollard, Senior Attorney and Leader of the Land and Community Program for the Southern Environmental Law Center stated “The strong bi-partisan support for passenger rail among General Assembly members is significant yet not surprising. Virginians are demanding more rail, and it is easy to see why. Rail is good for our economy, our communities, and our environment. The Trump Administration’s proposed cuts would take us in the wrong direction, and Virginia’s congressional delegation should stand up for rail and reject these cuts.”
Meredith Richards, Chair of Cville Rail said "Virginia is fortunate to have six of Amtrak's long-distance trains serving stations throughout the state. We are thrilled that Virginia legislators from both parties recognize the importance of these trains as transportation options for their constituents and economic drivers for their communities. As advocates for intercity passenger rail, we are grateful that our members of the General Assembly have come together to ask that Congress keep our Amtrak trains running in Virginia."
Danny Plaugher, Executive Director of Virginians for High Speed Rail stated “There is a reason why Virginia is a leader when it comes to making smart, focused investments in passenger rail and it’s because of the strong bi-partisan support that our passenger trains have among our legislators, including those that represent rural communities with few transportation choices and those that represent urban areas where traffic congestion is a fact of life. Over the last decade, ridership on our Amtrak trains has increased 72 percent, proving that Virginians love their trains!”
Virginians for High Speed Rail in partnership with the Southern Environmental Law Center, Cville Rail, and the National Association of Railroad Passengers are holding a series of rallies, as part of a nationwide campaign, to increase public awareness of these potential cuts and their impact on ordinary Virginians.
Virginians for High Speed Rail is a non-profit coalition of citizens, businesses, localities, community organizations, and economic development agencies that educate and advocate for the expansion of fast, frequent, and reliable rail service connecting our communities to increase the economic potential of the Commonwealth. We were founded in 1994 as a partnership between the Greater Richmond Chamber of Commerce and the Future of Hampton Roads. For more information, please visit www.VHSR.com