RICHMOND, Va. (AP) - Passenger use of Amtrak trains in Virginia continues to grow. Gov. Bob McDonnell announced Wednesday that ridership on state-supported intercity has nearly doubled since 2009.
The governor's office says stations in suburban Richmond, Alexandria, Charlottesville, and Newport News are the busiest in Virginia.
Dedicated funding for Amtrak Virginia trains was included in McDonnell's 2013 transportation package to continue support for existing services and expanding passenger rail options. McDonnell says Amtrak provides important transportation services and advances Virginia's economy.
The train initiated in October 2009 serves Lynchburg, Charlottesville, Culpeper, Manassas, Burke Centre, and Alexandria. The train initiated in July 2012 serves Richmond-Staples Mill, Ashland, Fredericksburg, Quantico, Woodbridge and Alexandria. And the train launched in December 2012 connects passengers from Norfolk to destinations north of the city.
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Office of Governor Bob McDonnell Press Release
RICHMOND - Today, Governor Bob McDonnell announced Amtrak Virginia service continues to grow year and after year, delivering statewide benefits, providing vital transportation services, advancing the Commonwealth's economy, and demonstrating the value and convenience of intercity passenger rail.
"The impressive increase in Amtrak Virginia ridership demonstrates why the state has become more involved with providing additional transportation choices for citizens of the Commonwealth," said Governor McDonnell. "It is clear that Virginians embrace the idea of passenger rail and we are pleased to be able to continue to expand intercity passenger rail service, most recently to Norfolk, and in the future to Roanoke."
Stations in Richmond (Staples Mill Road), Alexandria, Charlottesville, and Newport News are the busiest facilities in Virginia.
"Since 2009, the Commonwealth's state-supported Amtrak intercity passenger trains have seen ridership grow by 99.83 percent. Dedicated funding for Amtrak Virginia trains was included in Governor Bob McDonnell's 2013 transportation package, HB 2313, to continue to support existing intercity passenger rail and to provide additional funding sources to expand services for Virginians," said Transportation Secretary Sean T. Connaughton.
The Amtrak Virginia Lynchburg route had an increase of 7 percent. The Norfolk service has exceeded expectations as its one-year anniversary approaches. Both Amtrak Virginia trains provide same-seat service as far north as Boston.
"People throughout the State are deciding on other modes of transportation rather than driving their vehicles to their destinations and often sitting in traffic," said Thelma Drake, director of the Department of Rail and Public Transportation (DRPT). "Train travel is an attractive option by providing a relaxing one-seat ride up to Washington, D.C., Philadelphia, New York and Boston, free Wi-Fi and the ability to work, read or just enjoy the beautiful scenery of the State during the journey."
Virginia and other state-supported services are vital links in the Amtrak national network. The power of increasing demand for passenger rail is recognized through state investments to improve service, speed and safety. In addition, states and communities realize stations served by Amtrak are anchors for economic development, catalysts for historic preservation and tourism growth, sites for commercial and cultural uses, and points of civic pride.
"There is high demand for passenger rail service in Virginia as demonstrated by considerable ridership growth throughout the Commonwealth," said Amtrak President and CEO Joe Boardman. "We look forward to continuing our partnership with DRPT and further expanding service in the Commonwealth."