No spikes: NYC rail service clears last hurdle
By securing deals with Amtrak and the freight railroads that carry Amtrak's trains, the Commonwealth Transportation Board has removed the last major barrier the highly-anticipated three-year pilot program that would give Charlottesville a new, twice-daily link to Washington and New York.
"There is much work to be done to start the new service, but I'm confident that we'll be able to be riding the train on October first," said Meredith Richards, the person who spearheaded the service.
The move, part of the Board's six-year spending plan, was funded February 13 in a special meeting during which the rail service somehow survived a massive cost-cutting effort in the wake of an estimated $2.6 billion in state and federal funding shortfall over the next six years.
The Piedmont service has created some controversy for its alleged threat to the popular Starlight Express bus service. But just like President Barack Obama, who recently made rail a centerpiece of his economic recovery plan, Virginia is willing to spend cash on trains.
The proposed Amtrak service to the Piedmont–- which will terminate in Lynchburg–- will cost the state $1.9 million annually during the next three years. The state is paying another $11 million to subsidize three years of a new daily train to Richmond.
"The State's rail plan recognized that the Piedmont corridor was underserved by passenger rail and that there are significant unmet public transportation needs," Richards noted.