By: Danny Plaugher
While Indiana (Hoosier service) and Pennsylvania (Keystone and Pennsylvanian services) are cutting or eliminating their Amtrak regional trains, Virginia is doubling down on better rail service.
On June 19, the Commonwealth Transportation Board voted to approve the state’s Six-Year Transportation Improvement Program (SYIP). Included in the SYIP was the Virginia Department of Rail and Public Transportation’s (DRPT) request of $774 million in projects to sustain, improve and expand our Amtrak passenger rail network.
This funding sustains passenger rail service for 6.8 million Virginians and 82.5% of our jobs. It also increases our Amtrak service by 16%, including a fifth train to Hampton Roads and a second train to Roanoke/Lynchburg. Lastly, this money begins upgrading our stations, and invests heavily in our rail infrastructure to increase our trains’ reliability, safety and speed in addition to constructing more than 11% of the DC2RVA high-speed rail corridor.
Since 2009, Virginia has invested $872 million to improve our passenger rail network. What has that gotten the taxpayers of Virginia?