© 2023
Virginia's Public Radio
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
Available On Air Stations

Amtrak Virginia Returns to Pre-Pandemic Levels

Main Street Train and Amtrak Station Richmond
Steve Helber/AP
Main Street Train Station, along Interstate 95 in Downtown Richmond, will see expansion of departures and arrivals for Amtrak service as Virginia invests in rail.

An early Monday-morning passenger train’s departure from Richmond to Washington, DC marked the restoration of Amtrak service to the same level as before the pandemic.

The route leaves from downtown Richmond’s Main Street station instead of Staples Mill, a station just west of the city.

D.J. Stadtler, the Executive Director of the Virginia Passenger Rail Authority said the move from Staples Mill to the centrally located station is “a huge advantage for passengers because it takes you from one city center to another.”

Main Street station is close to Richmond’s Bus Rapid Transit, has connection to commercial bus lines, as well as scooters and bike shares.

The early morning train means that travelers can get to DC before the work day begins. It also provides more options for those traveling from other stations, Stadtler said.

The resumption of this service could help with tourism in the Richmond area too. The Capitol Trail, a cross-state bike route, begins near Main Street Station.

“It really provides cyclists in particular and, and other vacationing folks more flexibility for, for getting places they want to go,” said Stadtler.

Trains are a key part of reducing climate emissions, and Virginia has made major investments in rail. Governor Ralph Northam, who made the announcement, signed a $3.7 billion deal with Amtrak in March.

Stadtler says next spring additional round-trip trains from DC will connect to Norfolk, Roanoke and Lynchburg. By 2030 there will be eight departures from Main Street Station, and returning to Richmond in the evenings.

Jahd Khalil is a reporter and producer in Richmond.