RICHMOND – Governor Ralph Northam announced the launch of expanded rail service from downtown Richmond to the Northeast on Sept. 27, 2021. Amtrak Northeast Regional Train No. 86, which formerly began its northbound journey at the Staples Mill Road station in the city’s northern suburbs, now offers early morning service from Main Street Station in the heart of the Virginia capital.
Gov. Northam celebrated the milestone from the platform at Main Street Station as the first train departed at 5:35 a.m. Travelers can now choose from three daily departure times, two in the morning and one in the evening.
“If you’ve ever been stuck on I-95, you know we can’t pave our way out of congestion,” said Gov. Northam. “This new train offers quick, reliable service from the Commonwealth’s capital to Washington, D.C., connecting our two cities and making it easier for thousands of Virginians to get to work in the morning. Virginia is leading the nation in expanded access to high-performance rail – and I look forward to many more milestones ahead.”
“This extension will bring trains closer to where people live and work, expanding access and economic opportunity,” said Virginia Secretary of Transportation Shannon Valentine. The Virginia Passenger Rail Authority supports four Amtrak Northeast Regional routes, with service originating in Newport News, Norfolk, Richmond and Roanoke.
Main Street Station is a National Historic Landmark located in the city’s Shockoe Bottom district. It is served by Amtrak, Greater Richmond Transit Company buses, RVA Bike Share and Megabus. A Virginia Welcome Center located in the station is stocked with information about local and statewide tourist destinations. The building’s train shed was rehabilitated and opened in 2018 as a 47,000 square foot event space.
“We are pleased to partner with Virginia to bring additional Amtrak service to Main Street Station,” said Amtrak Vice President of State Supported Services Ray Lang. “As people feel comfortable traveling again, we are honored that our customers trust us on their journey as we are excited to welcome them on board.”
The new train is the first expansion of service under Gov. Northam’s Transforming Rail in Virginia Program, a $3.7 billion initiative to expand and improve passenger, commuter and freight rail in the Commonwealth. It will connect the Northeast and Southeast corridors in America’s national rail network. In partnership with CSX, Amtrak and Virginia Railway Express, Virginia is constructing a new Long Bridge over the Potomac River dedicated to passenger and commuter rail. In addition, 386 miles of rail right-of-way and 223 miles of track were acquired, and more than $1 billion was invested for additional rail infrastructure. Over the next 10 years, these investments will result in nearly hourly Amtrak service between Richmond and Washington, D.C. Amtrak service will also be enhanced for Newport News and Norfolk.
Posted Oct. 5, 2021.