Report calls for east-west rail service across Virginia

courtesy: MGN Online
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RICHMOND, Va. (CBS19 NEWS) -- A new report says expanding rail service across Virginia to include an east-west corridor would have major impacts.

The report was released Tuesday by Virginians for High Speed Rail, the Southern Environmental Law Center, the Hampton Roads Chamber, Virginia21, and the Roanoke Regional Chamber.

According to a release, this service expansion would make colleges and universities across the Commonwealth more accessible to students, increase economic development and tourism, and give 3.7 million Virginians additional access to passenger rail.

“This expansion to our rail system would increase points of access for so many people across the state and beyond,” Said Danny Plaugher, the executive director of Virginians for High Speed Rail. “The corridor could serve nearly 3.7 million Virginians who live within 20 miles of a rail station by expanding our transportation connectivity.”

The release says creating an east-west rail service would have several impacts, mainly by connecting Christiansburg and the New River Valley to Hampton Roads.

The service would go through Charlottesville and use existing railroads as well as building new rails.

First, the report says it would link 45 percent of jobs in the Commonwealth and generate millions in economic benefits.

It could also serve communities where 32 percent of anticipated population growth is expected.

The release says such a rail service could connect more than 300,000 students to 35 higher education schools across Virginia, including the University of Virginia, Virginia Tech, Virginia Commonwealth University, Virginia State University, the University of William and Mary, and Old Dominion University.

The report also finds this service would increase connectivity for millennials and for those over the age of 65 who are driving less as well as improve connectivity for 17 of the military installations across Virginia.

It adds this could cut annual fuel consumption by 800,000 gallons and reduce carbon pollution by 15.4 million pounds each year when the corridor becomes fully operational.

Additionally, the expanded service would relieve roadway congestion and help reduce the amount of time people spend stuck in traffic, which the Texas Transportation Institute says has increased by six percent from 2014 to 2019.

The groups are calling of the Virginia Department of Rail and Public Transportation to complete a feasibility study on the Commonwealth Corridor and outline what the next steps could be to launch it as soon as possible.

For more information on the report, click on the link in the Related Links box.

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