Virginia, Amtrak and NS agree to extend passenger-rail service to Roanoke

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Virginia, Amtrak, Norfolk Southern Railway and city of Roanoke, Va., officials have agreed to return passenger-rail service to Roanoke for the first time in 34 years, Gov. Bob McDonnell announced on Friday.

The new service between Lynchburg and Roanoke is the result of Virginia’s passage of its first new major transportation funding plan in three decades, railroad and Virginia officials said in a press release.

The McDonnell administration had “placed a high priority on extending Amtrak Virginia to Roanoke as a viable transportation option for travel to cities along the Northeast Corridor,” said Virginia Transportation Secretary Sean Connaughton.

Conceptual design work and a rail capacity analysis is under way. NS, Amtrak and the city of Roanoke will perform the necessary work to restart the passenger-rail service.

NS supports the department’s efforts to return service to Roanoke, said Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Wick Moorman.

“While freight is at the core of Norfolk Southern’s business, we understand the importance of passenger service to the Roanoke Valley,” he said.

Last week, Virginia and Amtrak announced the successful negotiation of a new intercity passenger-rail service. The Roanoke extension is the latest step in providing additional intercity passenger rail service to major rail corridors, Amtrak officials said.