Connecting the Commonwealth
The goal of the DRPT is to provide better access and a higher standard of living for all residents of Virginia through the development of new transportation options. Mobility for Virginians is a top priority, thus the state agency collaborates with rail and public transit providers to get the word out about people’s transportation options to residents, businesses, and policymakers across the state. With taxpayer dollars at stake, we must do everything we can to get a good return on those investments and use the most efficient management methods we can get our hands on.
Rail and Public Transportation
The Commonwealth of Virginia has established the Department of Rail and Public Transportation (DRPT) to ensure that all Virginians have access to safe, reliable, and affordable modes of public transportation, and to encourage the efficient conveyance of products and people.
The agency’s core areas of activity include rail, public transit, and commuter services, with the movement of people and products across the Commonwealth as its primary priority. When it comes to funding initiatives and programs, DRPT collaborates with private organizations as well as municipal, regional, state, and federal governments.
expands train service
On Monday, two additional state-funded return excursions leave Washington, DC for Norfolk and Roanoke, Virginia. According to state and railroad officials, the expansion was necessary to meet the rising demand for additional intercity train service in the state.
Virginia Passenger Rail Authority Chief Operating Officer Michael McLaughlin: “We’re introducing additional options for folks at the proper time.” Passenger volume on the trains has reached all-time highs.
McLaughlin claims that after more than two years of pandemic-related disruptions, Virginians are once again taking the train, with recent months seeing ridership on the Norfolk and Roanoke routes surpass 2019’s totals. For instance, according to official state figures, the number of passengers taking the Norfolk route increased to almost 26,000 in April from under 23,000 the previous year.
The new service extends the Northeast Regional route, making it easier for people in Virginia to go to other major cities including Washington, Baltimore, Philadelphia, and New York.
With plans to increase frequency between Washington and Richmond and other improvements, Virginia, one of 17 states with state-sponsored Amtrak service, aims to more than treble its passenger operations within the decade.
The supplemental Norfolk train service will add a third daily round trip to the area. When it leaves Norfolk at 1 p.m., it will get to Washington in 4 hours and 38 minutes, making it about the same length of time as driving. At 12:05, a brand-new southbound train will leave Union Station.
The state agreed to expand passenger service along the Interstate 95 corridor last year in exchange for $3.7 billion from CSX and Amtrak. This includes funding for the Norfolk extension. Originally scheduled to begin this spring, Virginia’s new route to Norfolk was delayed due to Amtrak staffing issues.
As a result of this agreement, Virginia will be authorized to build a barrier between freight and passenger traffic along a stretch of the I-95 corridor. A $1.9 billion rail bridge over the Potomac River is planned to be built in 2026, increasing passenger train capacity; additional trains will be added in 2030.
The state of Virginia and Norfolk Southern have reached an agreement that will see various improvements made to Southwest Virginia, the first of which is the addition of a round trip to Roanoke. This comes five years after Virginia expanded service to the area. From Salem Crossovers west of Roanoke to Christiansburg, Virginia has recently purchased 28.5 miles of track from the private railroad. Officials anticipate completing track restoration and extending service from Roanoke to Christiansburg by 2025.
There is already an Amtrak service that travels from Roanoke to Washington, DC in the morning and back in the evening. One train will depart Washington at 8:05 in the morning and arrive in Roanoke at 1 in the afternoon beginning on July 11; another train will depart Roanoke at 4:30 in the afternoon and arrive in Washington just before 9:30 in the evening.
Buckingham Branch Railroad
At certain times of the year, visitors can take part in a tour of the Buckingham Branch Railroad. Also, have an annual Santa train for the holidays, and they offer spring and fall excursions in conjunction with the Old Dominion Chapter of the National Railway Preservation Society.
The journey departs from Dillwyn Station and travels through central Virginia’s lovely rolling hills, rich forests, and other natural wonders. Take a weekend vacation back in time on a train and make memories that will last a lifetime.
Winchester & Western Railroad
The fundamental goal of Winchester & Western Railroad is to create a travel experience that is both convenient and safe for its passengers while also being environmentally conscious and socially responsible. They operate a short-line train between Gore, Virginia, and Hagerstown, Maryland.
They also link to Vineland and Millville, both in New Jersey, where the Conrail Shared Assets Operations are located. Along the way, you’ll see the scenic Abram’s Creek in the Potomac Highlands, the historic Northwest Turnpike, Hogue Creek, and much of the verdant wilderness.
Potomac Eagle Scenic Railroad
Excursion rides on the Potomac Eagle Scenic Railroad are a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity that comes with impeccable service. Tour packages include trips to the Trough, Petersburg for the day, and Green Spring. Travel time through the Trough and Sycamore Bridge is three hours without a stop. However, the journey time to Petersburg is substantial, taking an entire day.
The travel from Moorefield to Petersburg takes about eight hours. In the two hours that travelers have to kill in Petersburg, they can explore the city, eat at local eateries, and shop for souvenirs. Green Spring Special, on the other hand, may be reached in about an hour and a half heading north, across the scenic Potomac River and huge farmlands.