Virginia’s Amtrak service ridership hit 105,689 in September, up from the pre-pandemic 76,793 riders in September 2019, for 37.6 percent growth. That’s also an improvement from September 2021 ridership at 50,776.
In a Thursday press release, the Virginia Passenger Rail Authority said “the numbers show the strong rebound in post-pandemic travel with every route seeing an increase.”
After adding more routes in Virginia, ridership on four state-supported Amtrak routes hit all-time highs in July, beating pre-pandemic levels with 110,256 passengers.
“These numbers make it very clear – Virginians want more passenger rail to be a part of their transportation network,” Virginia Passenger Rail Authority (VRPA) Chief Operating Officer Mike McLaughlin said in a press release. “With the launch of two new roundtrips and the resumption of another, we know that rail works for the Commonwealth and look forward to further expanding service throughout the state.”
Amtrak announced a new Washington, D.C.-to-Roanoke daily round trip Monday, adding to the already-existing round trip. The new trip leaves Washington at 8:05 a.m., arriving in Roanoke at 1:00 p.m., and the return leaves at 4:30 p.m., arriving back at 9:28 p.m, with stops in Alexandria, Manassas, Culpeper, Charlottesville, and Lynchburg. The existing train departs Roanoke for Washington at 6:32 a.m. and arriving in Washington at 11:34 a.m., while a return departs Washington at 5:00 p.m. and arrives in Roanoke at 10:06 p.m.
Fares for the 8:05 a.m. Roanoke-bound train and the 4:30 p.m. Washington-bound train currently start at $20 one-way.
The last of three Amtrak Virginia trains that were suspended due to the pandemic is open again, with a new extension to the Main Street Station in downtown Richmond. Governor Ralph Northam and rail officials announced the reopening and expansion of Northeast Regional Route 51 as part of Northam’s Transforming Rail in Virginia program. Northam held his press conference as the first train departed Main Street Station at 5:35 a.m. Monday.
“If you’ve ever been stuck on I-95, you know we can’t pave our way out of congestion,” Northam said.