The Case for Passenger Rail

Improving Virginia’s transportation system is going to continue to be a major need for many years to come, and enhancing our rail network is a vital part of those improvements. Every day, thousands of Virginians ride our Amtrak Regionals to Washington, New York, or Boston because they offer them an opportunity to get out of traffic and be productive while they travel. 

The opportunity is greater than just getting people off the roads. It is about the Regional Corridor Mapsability to create economic opportunities for all Virginians by offering improved connections to destinations along the Northeast Corridor. North of Washington, the same seat that a passenger sits down in when they got on at Norfolk, Newport News, Lynchburg, or Richmond reaches speeds upwards of 125 mph. In the Commonwealth, our Regionals have the ability to reach 110 mph, but cannot due to infrastructure limitations. Further, there is the ability to expand service beyond the six Regional trains that serve the Commonwealth today. Every day in Washington, 18 Regional trains stop at Union Station and never cross the Potomac River. That is a lot of service that could one day serve the communities of Virginia. 

The goal is simple. We need to invest in our rail infrastructure to improve and expand our Amtrak Regional service to connect our citizens to destinations along the east coast in a reliable, efficient, and effective manner.  

Connecting a changing Commonwealth

  • Virginia’s population grew 35.5% between 1990 and 2015. 
  • Our Urban Crescent (Washington-Richmond-Hampton Roads) represents 20.4% of our landmass.
  • The Urban Crescent now accounts for 66.9% of the Virginia’s citizens, up from 62.6% in 1990.
  • i959 out of every 10 new residents are moving along the Urban Crescent.
  • In 2014, Virginia was the 10th fastest growing state in the nation.
  • Since 2010, Virginia’s total population has grown 4.8%, but the population along our Amtrak Regional corridors grew 6.3%.
  • Virginia is estimated to grow by another 2.5 million residents by 2040.  

Transportation is a major issue for Virginia

  • The business reimbursement rate for mileage has grown 166% since 2000.
  • The price of gas has increased 59% since 2000.
  • From 1990 to 2014, Virginia’s highway network grew 12.7% while vehicle miles traveled (VMT) on those highways grew 65.2%.  
  • 85% of every highway VMT is driven along the highways in the Urban Crescent.
  • In 2015, Virginia Urban Crescent commuters wasted 53 hours and $1,026 annually due to traffic congestion.
  • Flights at Virginia’s major airports have decreased 29% since 1990, however passenger per flight has increased 134%.
  • One out of every four millennials in Virginia doesn't have a driver's license.

Why Passenger Rail in Virginia is Beneficial: 

Virginia’s Amtrak Regional trains connect: amtrak passengers

  • 77% of Virginians on 29% of Virginia’s landmass.
  • 82% of the Commonwealth’s jobs and economy.
  • 84% of college students and 41 institutions of higher education. 
  • 30+ military installations and over 119,000 members of the military.
  • 9.9% of our nation’s armed forces.    
  • Our Regionals use 32% less fuel per passenger mile than driving.
  • Our Regionals use 26% less fuel per passenger mile than flying.

All of the Commonwealth's Amtrak trains:

  • Removed 186 million potential passenger miles off our roads in 2015
  • Reduced fuel consumption by 6.1 million gallons in 2015
  • Eliminated the burning of 119.8 million pounds of CO2 in 2015
  • Handled over 1.6 million trips in 2015.

Our Trains are Doing Well:ridershipgrowth

  • Ridership on our Amtrak Regionals grew 118.4% between 2007-15.
  • Our Regionals ran 71% percent on-time in 2015. 
  • They made a profit of $0.028 per passenger mile for 2015. 
  • Virginia had 4 of the top 6 most successful Regional corridors in Amtrak’s network for FY2015 (out of 30). 
        1. Newport News Regional Corridor
        2. Lynchburg/Piedmont Regional Corridor
        3. Richmond Regional Corridor
        6. Norfolk Regional Corridor

High speed rail will help:

  • If the DC to Richmond high speed rail corridor was already built, rail travelers in VA would've saved over 311,000 hours in 2015.
  • Allow for the expansion of service to Richmond, Newport News, Norfolk, North Carolina as well as Roanoke and Lynchburg.
  • Reduce trip times by up-to 35%.
  • Increase reliability to over 90%
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