Expansion of passenger rail brings second train to Roanoke

Published: Jul. 11, 2022 at 8:27 PM EDT
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ROANOKE, Va. (WDBJ) - The sound of cowbells greeted Roanoke’s newest passenger train as it eased up to the Amtrak platform Monday afternoon.

The crowd of well-wishers came to celebrate the addition of a second daily round trip to Washington, DC

“We had Amtrak off and on since 1979, but for thirty years we had no passenger rail at all for Roanoke,” Sen. John Edwards (D-21) told the crowd.

The welcome ceremony included a bipartisan group of elected leaders, and representatives of the state, Amtrak and Norfolk Southern.

The benefits, speakers said, include better access to Washington and beyond, but also more opportunities for visitors to come here.

Landon Howard is the President of Visit Virginia’s Blue Ridge.

“We’re thrilled that residents love going to the northeast, but we also know that DC and the feeder markets just north of DC are strong feeder markets for tourism for us,” Howard said.

And one day soon, noted Roanoke Mayor Sherman Lea, the Star City won’t be the end of the line.

“This is a great day for this part of Virginia,” Lea told reporters. “And I think we’re going to keep working. You’re going to see rail transportation go even further in southwest Virginia.”

Plans to extend passenger rail to the New River Valley are moving forward, with Amtrak service scheduled to start there in 2026.

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