Thursday, August 08, 2013

Amtrak, Virginia reach cost-sharing agreement

An Amtrak train arrives at the station in Culpeper, VA. An Amtrak train arrives at the station in Culpeper, VA. John Mueller, via Wikimedia Commons

Virginia has entered into a cost-sharing partnership with Amtrak, where Virginia will be assuming greater costs associated with making intercity passenger rail service available to communities between Washington, D.C., and Lynchburg, Newport News and Norfolk, including Richmond.

This new operating and capital cost-sharing agreement with Amtrak, as required under federal law, needed to be in place no later than October 1, 2013, or all Virginia regional rail service would have ceased.

"Over 1.5 million people either board or disembark on a train in Virginia," said Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell. "Stopping regional Amtrak service in the commonwealth was not an option. With this agreement between Virginia and Amtrak, we can continue to provide for existing regional intercity passenger rail service and work toward extending new service from Lynchburg into Roanoke and extend more service to Norfolk. I'm pleased that Virginia was the first state able to sign this agreement."

The agreement supports Virginia's ongoing commitment to offering the public transportation choices to driving on congested highway corridors such as I-95, Route 29, Route 460 and I-81, expanding mobility and increasing connectivity for travel throughout the regions served and along the Northeast Corridor.

The agreement between Virginia and Amtrak is part of Section 209 of the Passenger Rail Investment and Improvement Act of 2008, a federal law that requires Amtrak to work with the 19 affected states to establish a consistent cost-sharing methodology for the 28 corridor routes of less than 750 miles in order to ensure fair and equitable treatment of all states. Starting in late 2010, Amtrak and the Section 209 State Working Group, comprised of representatives from California, Maine, North Carolina, Virginia and Wisconsin, developed a cost-sharing methodology that ultimately received approval for implementation by the Surface Transportation Board.

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