Sep 1, 2022 - News

Amtrak’s record Virginia ridership

An Amtrak train on tracks

Photo: Luke Sharrett/AFP via Getty Images

More people are taking passenger trains in Virginia than ever before in Amtrak's history.

What's happening: Over 110,000 people boarded state-sponsored Amtrak routes in July, according to the Virginia Passenger Rail Authority.

  • That's 20% higher than pre-pandemic levels and a 30% increase since June.

Why it matters: The numbers reflect pent-up demand for summer travel, but also the state's growing investment in its rail infrastructure.

  • In July, the state added two new daily round trips connecting D.C. to Norfolk and Roanoke.
  • And the state resumed a daily trip between Newport News and D.C. that had been suspended during the pandemic.

Routes that didn't add trains saw increases in ridership soon thereafter.

The Richmond-D.C. route saw a 26% increase in ridership between July 2019 and July 2022.

What they're saying: "These numbers make it very clear — Virginians want more passenger rail to be a part of their transportation network," said DJ Stadtler, executive director of the state's passenger rail authority, in a statement.

What's next: The state is working on a number of major rail upgrades, which rail advocates say should improve rail reliability and speeds in the near-term, though plans for high-speed service are still well over a decade away from fruition.

  • And discussions are ongoing about a potential east-west route that would connect Richmond and Charlottesville, opening the door to service between Hampton Roads and Roanoke.
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