Regions Southwest Virginia

Amtrak getting ready for new Roanoke rail service

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Amtrak trains will begin running today on a new territory between Lynchburg and Roanoke, but they won’t carry any passengers.

Amtrak said Monday that these nonscheduled trains will serve as training for locomotive engineers and train conductors to learn the tracks and territory between the two cities. The trains are expected to operate two times per day, five days a week.

Amtrak is operating the trains in collaboration with the Virginia Department of Rail and Public Transportation (DRPT), and Norfolk Southern. According to Amtrak, this step is essential to completing the project to bring intercity passenger rail service to Roanoke in the fall. At that time, Amtrak Northeast Regional service will extend from Lynchburg to Roanoke and will operate one round-trip seven days a week.

It will mark the first time that passenger rail service back has been available in Roanoke in four decades. The Northeast Regional service will provide a same-seat trip to and from Roanoke and to Washington, D.C., Baltimore, Philadelphia, New York City and other cities along the Northeast Corridor.

Northeast Regional service to Roanoke represents the fourth expansion of intercity passenger rail in the commonwealth since 2009, following new or additional service to Lynchburg, Richmond and Norfolk.

The effort to expand rail options in Virginia is the result of the state’s investment of more than $100 million in Norfolk Southern’s rail infrastructure, which made the intercity passenger service extension possible.

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