Full steam ahead for Amtrak’s Roanoke extension

August 31, 2013 by  

Bob McDonnell, the governor of Virginia, announced this month that Amtrak was to bring service back to Roanoke.

The last time Roanoke had intercity rail was 34 years ago, but now the Norfolk Southern Railroad, Amtrak, the state, and Roanoke have begun working together to change that. The entities involved plan to extend Amtrak service from Lynchburg, which is currently an Amtrak stop, to Roanoke.

Governor McDonnell says the extension will spark other projects throughout Virginia, including new roads, railways, and the jobs they bring. The extension from Lynchburg will take anywhere from three to four years, experts believe. Once it is finished, however, Roanoke residents will have rail access to other parts of the state, as well as all the destinations on the Amtrak system, which serves over 500 cities and towns throughout the country.

The Northeast Corridor, which includes Virginia, is one of Amtrak’s busiest areas, with stops including Boston, Philadelphia, New York City, Washington, D.C., and Lynchburg. Soon, that list will include Roanoke.

Joe Boardman, Amtrak’s president, notes that rail travel is safe, reliable, and efficient, and a viable alternative to congested highways, high-priced gas and crowded and stress-inducing airports. It is also a great way to really see and appreciate the country.

Roanoke might consider working with a poster printing company to create posters to place in windows throughout the city, announcing the upcoming service. Later, they could work with a banner printing expert to create material to hang over the streets, reminding people of the new service and inviting them to park the car and ride the train.