Passenger counts on Virginia’s state-supported train services hit an all-time high in July, with more than 110,000 travelers.
That’s an increase of nearly 29 percent from June and a jump of nearly 20 percent from pre-pandemic levels, according to the Virginia Passenger Rail Authority (VRPA).
VPRA launched two new roundtrips from the Washington area in July, one to Roanoke and one to Norfolk, with the resumption of an additional roundtrip from Washington to Newport News that had been suspended due to the pandemic.
Every route saw an increase in ridership, with Newport News topping the list. That route – with intermediate stops in Alexandria, Woodbridge, Quantico, Fredericksburg, Ashland, Richmond Staples Mill Station, Richmond Main Street Station and Williamsburg – carried an additional 10,315 passengers in July compared to June, a 54-percent increase.
The state’s Norfolk route – which includes intermediate stops in Alexandria, Woodbridge, Quantico, Fredericksburg, Ashland, Richmond Staples Mill Station and Petersburg – saw the second largest increase from June to July, with 40,763 passengers traveling, a 23-percent jump. In addition to beating June, it marked a 36.5-percent increase over the pre-pandemic July 2019 number of 29,864.
“These numbers make it very clear – Virginians want more passenger rail to be a part of their transportation network,” said D.J. Stadtler, executive director of VPRA. “With the launch of two new roundtrips and the resumption of another, we know that rail works for the commonwealth and look forward to further expanding service.”
State funding helps to subsidize the routes, which are operated by Amtrak.
“We are encouraged by the ridership growth and enthusiasm customers have,” said Ray Lang, vice president of state-supported services at Amtrak. “We will continue to strive to give travelers the best experience possible with congestion-free, frequent, convenient and reliable service.”
Service to Roanoke saw an increase of 72.1 percent in July as compared to July of last year with, 27,374 passengers traveling. This route, which includes intermediate stops in Alexandria, Burke Centre, Manassas, Culpeper, Charlottesville and Lynchburg and Roanoke, also beat-its pre-pandemic number with a 31.4 percent increase in July 2022 over July 2019.
The Washington-to-Richmond route, which includes stops in Alexandria, Woodbridge, Quantico, Fredericksburg, Ashland, Richmond Staples Mill Station and Richmond Main Street Station, continues to perform well, with ridership of 12,848 passengers in July – an eight-percent increase over June and a 26.3-percent increase of July 2019.
The Virginia Passenger Rail Authority was established in 2020 to promote, sustain and expand the availability of passenger and commuter rail service in the commonwealth.