Virginia groups call for new east-west train service

Demographic trends show a need for greater transportation options across the Commonwealth. (© Doug Riddel)

Virginians of all ages want to have the option of getting where they need to go without driving.

A new report finds that expanding the state’s rail service to add an east-west corridor would make colleges and universities across the Commonwealth more accessible to students, increase economic development and tourism, and give 3.7 million Virginians additional access to passenger rail.

“The need for more travel options is obvious,” says Trip Pollard, director of SELC’s Land & Community Program. “To travel by train from Roanoke to Norfolk today would take 16 hours—including a 6-hour layover in Washington, DC. We can and we must do better for Virginians.”

SELC, Virginians for High Speed Rail, the Hampton Roads Chamber, Virginia 21, and the Roanoke Regional Chamber of Commcerce jointly released the report, called Expanding Virginia’s Passenger Rail: Connecting the Blue Ridge to the Beach with the Commonwealth Corridor.

The benefits of the proposed rail service also include:

  • Linking 45 percent of Virginians’ jobs
  • Generating millions in economic benefits
  • Connecting more than 300,000 students to 35 higher education schools across the state, including the University of Virginia, Virginia Tech, Virginia Commonwealth State University, William & Mary, and Old Dominion University
  • Serving communities where 32 percent of the state’s anticipated population growth will happen
  • Increasing connectivity for millennials and citizens over age 65 who are driving less
  • Cutting fuel consumption by 800,000 gallons, and reducing carbon pollution by 15.4 million pounds when the corridor is fully operational.
  • Relieving roadway congestion on a corridor that has seen time stuck in traffic increase 6 percent from 2014 to 2019, according to the Texas Transportation Institute

We are asking that the Virginia Department of Rail and Public Transportation consider this report, complete its own feasibility study of the Commonwealth Corridor, and outline next steps to launch this service as soon as possible. 

For more information, visit www.CommonwealthCorridor.com.

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