Richmond, VA

US DOT gives $58 million for Richmond-to-Raleigh (R2R) rail project

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A view from the platform at Richmond's Main St. StationAll rights reserved by KnowGoodMedia

The U.S. Department of Transportation awarded a $58 million grant to improve rail travel between Richmond, VA and Raleigh, NC.

The Richmond to Raleigh project, known as R2R, is a joint venture between The Virginia Passenger Rail Authority (VPRA) and the North Carolina Department of Transportation (NCDOT).

Ultimately, the two states plan to update portions of the S-line partly through rehabilitation and partly through construction, VPRA said in a press release announcing the grant. This funding is a “vital step” in the process because it will be used to fund the preliminary planning and engineering design for the rail line between the two cities, which is about 162 miles long.

“This grant brings us one step closer to providing trains from Richmond to Raleigh that are competitive with the time that it takes to make the drive down I-85 and I-95,” said W. Sheppard Miller III, Virginia Secretary of Transportation.

“This is a game-changing project that Virginia has already shown its commitment to through the purchase of 75 miles of the S-line from CSX,” Miller added.

Miller was referring to 75 miles of railway that Virginia purchased in 2020 between Petersburg, VA, and Ridgeway, NC as part of the Transforming Rail in Virginia Initiative. That $3.7 billion program aims to double Amtrak state-supported service and increase Virginia Railway Express (VRE) service in Virginia over the next decade to provide alternatives for moving people and goods through the state, VPRA explains on its website.

The R2R project also involves NCDOT purchasing a section of the S-Line in its state between Raleigh and Ridgeway.

The benefits of this project are supposed to be felt beyond that one stretch of the Southeast Corridor. According to VPRA, it will create access for Norfolk trains to come directly into Main Street Station in Richmond, allowing for one-seat rides from downtown Norfolk to downtown Richmond on three roundtrips a day.

A third Norfolk train will be put into service this summer along with a second train to Roanoke, and the Ettrick Station in Petersburg will be enhanced to accommodate more trains and more passengers, VPRA also announced.

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