Virginia Passenger Rail Sets Ridership Records, Seeks More Wins

Virginia’s commitment to intercity rail is paying off in record ridership numbers, but more work will be necessary to achieve the state’s ambitions for passenger rail.

2 minute read

September 1, 2023, 5:00 AM PDT

By James Brasuell @CasualBrasuell

Arlington to D.C.

The current Long Bridge over the Potomac River. | Elvert Barnes / Flickr

More people are riding trains to get around Virginia than ever before, according to state rail officials.

The Virginia Passenger Rail Authority (VPRA) announced that 1,256,123 riders used Virginia passenger rail service during the state’s fiscal year 2023, easily surpassing the previous record of 894,065 set in 2015.

The month of June also set a record for monthly travel, according to the VPRA, with 111,212 passengers. The previous record was set in June 2022, with 85,533 passengers, according to an article published by the Williamsburg Yorktown Daily in July.

 “All four Amtrak Virginia corridors saw increases year-over-year from June 2022 to June 2023, it added, with overall ridership up 30% over last June,” adds the article. “The Newport News service saw the greatest increase — 57.4% — from June 2022 to June 2023.”

VPR’s Transforming Rail initiative is racking up a track record of success while making investments in intercity rail. As reported in an article by Luz Lazo for the Washington Post, VPRA is currently seeking federal funding for the Long Bridge project.

“Virginia Passenger Rail Authority officials said Tuesday that the first of two major contracts is expected to be issued this year, keeping the project’s timeline on track for the span to open in 2030,” reports Lazo.

“The rail authority is seeking $829 million in federal grants through two programs to help pay for construction of the bridge and other projects in Virginia’s $7.2 billion rail program,” adds Lazo. “The new span and other upgrades just south of Washington aim to alleviate a growing East Coast bottleneck of passenger and freight trains at the Potomac.”

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