BlueFlag wrote: ↑Sun Jul 25, 2021 10:46 pm
Less noticed, it seems, is that Virginia plans to use the newly-purchased rail between Charlottesville and Doswell as part of cross-state service dubbed the "Commonwealth Corridor".
Thanks, but unfortunately the "Commonwealth Corridor," like the previous "Transdominion Express" for Southside, are no longer discussed by the state DRPT. The state purchase of tracks between Charlottsville and Doswell, while welcome, is only to "preserve the existing freight corridor between Doswell, VA, and Clifton Forge, VA for future east-west passenger service." https://transformingrailva.com/
Pax service is not in the 10-year plan. Also unfortunately, it's a terrible route. On the schedules I've seen from pre-Amtrak days, Charlottesville-Richmond took 1:50 and looking at the track it's hard to imagine it was ever faster. On the optimistic side, CSX/BB doesn't seem interested in this route a major freight corridor. The only other existing rail corridor from Charlottesville to Richmond would go along the James River, but that line is a busy CSX freight line, and the needed connecting rail is defunct. Then there's what everyone casually interested seems to say: build a super train down the median of I-64. I'm just wondering if the bus service could improve, public or private.
Greyhound just closed the indoor Charlottesville station, even though it's a connection point on their system. For a small city, decisions in the last two decades have resulted in *four* surface transportation hubs: Downtown Transit Center, very nice, local buses only; Greyhound; Amtrak (busy) with Ambus only for connecting to north-south routes in Richmond; and at Barracks Road Shopping Center, Megabus and the state supported Virginia Breeze bus service, a system of north-south routes only. All in a city of 10 square miles.
Further afield, the airport like many in Virginia does not even have bus service, and is always looking for ways to spend its dedicated passenger taxes.
A VRE-like commuter rail from Richmond to Staunton along the BB doesn't seem likely either, as only a few counties or cities along the route would go for the taxes. Charlottesville to Staunton might work, with more stops than Amtrak, and the politics for it would be slightly possible. But no one's talking about it, and there is moderate freight contention.
While Amtrak has surpassed expectations in popularity outside the urban crescent of Hampton Roads - Richmond - D.C., the real spending needs are in the expanded Northeast Corridor: the urban crescent and the high speed route to Raleigh. While Amtrak has done well in economically growing areas of Virginia outside the urban crescent, routes like Bristol are (or were) just political talk. How to support areas with steady or declining populations is a political issue common to many states. I wonder why Harrisonburg and the lower (northern) Shenandoah Valley, which is doing fine, is not discussed for rail, but it's become as a whole very conservative, somewhat contrary to its longer history.