Virginia Becomes First State to Help Fund Amtrak Service

Skift Take

This was the only reasonable way to preserve a necessary service long subsidized by the federal government though used unevenly throughout the states.

— Eliza Ronalds-Hannon

An operating and cost sharing agreement between Virginia and Amtrak will preserve regional passenger rail service in the Charlottesville area and statewide, Gov. Bob McDonnell’s office announced Tuesday.

The agreement between Virginia and Amtrak is part of the Passenger Rail Investment and Improvement Act, a 2008 federal law that requires Amtrak and 19 states, including Virginia, to establish a consistent cost-sharing method for 28 regional rail routes.

“For Charlottesville, the new operating and capital cost-sharing agreement with Virginia and Amtrak means the continuation of regional passenger rail service,” Kimberly Woods, an Amtrak spokeswoman, said by email.

Charlottesville is served by three passenger rail routes — the Northeast Regional, with service between Lynchbur gand Washington, D.C., and the long-distance Cardinal and Crescent routes. Crescent service runs from New York to New Orleans. Amtrak’s Cardinal service runs from New York to Chicago.

Virginia doesn’t provide money for the long-distance trains, but “the services … give passengers in Charlottesville multiple options to travel throughout Virginia as well as to other cities,” Woods said.

Under the federal law, regional Amtrak service in Virginia would have ended Oct. 1 if no agreement was in place.

“Over 1.5 million people either board or disembark on a train in Virginia,” McDonnell said in a statement. “Stopping regional Amtrak service in the commonwealth was not an option.”

(c)2013 The Daily Progress (Charlottesville, Va.). Visit The Daily Progress (Charlottesville, Va.) at Distributed by MCT Information Services.

Tags: amtrak, laws, virginia

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