An inaugural train set to usher in new intercity rail service in Virginia will stop Sept. 30 in Manassas, local media report. The train, billed as taking a whistle stop tour, will leave Washington's Union Station at 8:30 a.m. bound for Lynchburg. It is scheduled to arrive in Old Town Manassas at 11:40 a.m.
Virginia Secretary of
Transportation Pierce R. Homer is expected to be joined by Manassas Mayor Harry
J. "Hal" Parrish II, Prince William Board of County Supervisors Chairman Corey
Stewart, R-at large, local delegates as well as the presidents of Amtrak and
Norfolk Southern for a presentation that will last about 20 minutes. Virginia
Gov. Timothy M. Kaine is expected to meet the train in Charlottesville and
again in Lynchburg.
The train will begin
regular service Oct. 1, headed north from Lynchburg. It will stop in both
cities and towns along the line, including Charlottesville, Culpeper, Manassas
and Washington, before connecting to the northeast rail corridor, ultimately
terminating in Boston.
"Anytime you add
transportation you add opportunities for business. People traveling north on
board these trains will take opportunities to stop in these towns, and the more
people you have walking around Old Town Manassas, the better," said Manassas
City Manager Lawrence D. Hughes.
The train will arrive
Thursday in Manassas at 10:21 a.m., according to Amtrak, which will operate the
trains. Since it is later in the morning, Hughes said the city expects fewer
commuters to use the train, except for those who may need to go into work later
in the day.
The new train – along
with a proposed $1.5-billion worth of rail improvements from Washington to
Petersburg awaiting approval from the Federal Railroad Administration – show
transit in the state is on the right track, said Stewart.
"While we must remain
focused on economic development within the county, it is encouraging that the
commonwealth and the federal government recognize that an investment in the
quality of life of Prince William and Manassas commuters will pay dividends to
the rest of the state and region," Stewart said.
The state approved $25.2
million to fund the rail service earlier this year. Some of the money, $8
million, will be used to refurbish Amtrak rail cars and locomotives, according
to a Virginia Department of Rail and Transportation spokeswoman.
A state-funded Amtrak
train from Richmond will begin service Dec. 15. That train will also connect
passengers to Amtrak’s northeast corridor, from Richmond to Boston.
The state estimates a
combined total of 93,000 passengers a year will use the new Amtrak service.