How Virginia’s $3.7 billion rail plan fits Amtrak’s long-term vision

With new routes and faster and more efficient service, the number of Amtrak trains operating in Virginia is expected to double by 2030.

…The state exemplifies Amtrak’s growth strategy of focusing on adding short-haul trips that compete with car rides and flights in dense urban corridors, they say.

…In recent years, Amtrak has been beefing up short-distance service across the country, advancing its vision to connect major metropolitan areas in regions undergoing significant growth and where there is little to no rail service, while fulfilling Americans’ growing desire for cost-efficient and more environmentally friendly travel options.

…Virginia, one of 18 states that sponsors Amtrak service, has some of the best-performing routes, officials said. Combined ridership for the four routes connecting Richmond and other major cities to Washington and the Northeast grew to 971,415 in 2019, from 844,698 the previous year — a 15 percent increase. That’s well above the average 2.4 percent increase among all state-supported lines and the 2.5 percent growth of Amtrak’s entire network.

“In just the 10 years since 2009, ridership has more than doubled on our Virginia corridors,” Anderson told members of Congress at a Nov. 13 hearing. “What these and our other very successful state-supported corridors have in common is that they offer multiple daily frequencies with trip times that are competitive with driving and flying.”

…In 2011, Virginia became one of only a few states to create a dedicated funding source for rail projects. The Virginia Intercity Passenger Rail Operating and Capital Fund gets .005 percent of the state’s retail sales and use tax, which equals about $50 million to $60 million annually.

…Increasing train service in the state makes sense, both for reducing traffic congestion and from an economic standpoint, officials and transportation experts say. A recent state study of the I-95 corridor estimates it would cost $12.5 billion to build one additional travel lane in each direction for 50 miles in the corridor.

How Virginia’s $3.7 billion rail plan fits Amtrak’s long-term vision – The Washington Post

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