Northam announces deal to expand rail in Southwest Virginia; includes DC-to-Roanoke roundtrip

CHRISTIANSBURG, Va. (AP) — Virginia and Norfolk Southern Railway have reached a $257 million agreement to bring new passenger rail service to part of Southwest Virginia.

Gov. Ralph Northam announced the deal Wednesday. It includes infrastructure improvements and right-of-way and track acquisitions.

Around $220 million will be spent on infrastructure investments along the corridor, including improvements to Roanoke Yard.

Part of the agreement would add a round-trip train from D.C. to Roanoke in 2022. The trip will also service Alexandria, Burke, Manassas, Culpeper, Charlottesville and Roanoke.

“Bringing passenger rail service back to the New River Valley will fuel tourism, drive economic growth, and create new opportunities for the region’s 180,000 residents and 40,000 college students,” Northam said.

Northam’s office says it will increase existing service to Roanoke and newly expand it to Christiansburg, which neighbors Blacksburg, home to Virginia Tech.

That means service will be returning to the New River Valley, the area southwest of Roanoke, for the first time since 1979.

WTOP’s Zeke Hartner contributed to this report. 

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