Virginia pilot program adds Amtrak train to link Richmond and the District

By Jennifer Buske
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, July 9, 2010

A second state-funded intercity passenger train will launch this month, providing Virginia residents with another transportation option between Richmond and Washington.

Operated by Amtrak and funded by the commonwealth, the train will start July 20, leaving Richmond at 7 a.m. and stopping at Ashland, Fredericksburg, Quantico, Woodbridge and Alexandria before arriving in Washington at 9:30 a.m., Amtrak officials said. The train will continue to Boston. The new southbound intercity train will leave Union Station at 3:55 p.m.

The train is part of a three-year, $17.2 million pilot project that includes a similar train between Lynchburg and Washington that started in October. The pilot was launched to increase the number of mass-transit options and to determine whether enhanced rail service could be viable in Virginia, state transportation officials said.

This will be the fifth train to connect Richmond and Washington in the morning and the sixth in the evening, Amtrak officials said.

The train was scheduled to launch last year but was delayed as transportation officials worked to complete about $78 million in infrastructure improvements. The winter weather, Amtrak officials said, slowed the process further.

Tickets for the new train are available at deals. Ticket prices will fluctuate, but a current sample one-way fare from Richmond to Washington is $23.

The pilot is fully funded, but the state does not have money set aside to continue service if it proves successful, state transportation officials said. They said if ridership is there, the hope is that the General Assembly will support it.

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