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Staunton awarded $500K for study to increase Amtrak’s Cardinal service to seven days

Sen. Mark R. Warner speaks at Mill Street Grill in downtown Staunton on Tuesday, March 26, 2024. Photo by Rebecca J. Barnabi.

During a visit through the Shenandoah Valley yesterday, which began in Harrisonburg, Sen. Mark Warner stopped in Staunton to discuss the future of rail transit in the Commonwealth.

Local elected officials, community leaders and transportation stakeholders from Staunton, Augusta County, Waynesboro, Clifton Forge and Charlottesville met with Warner at Mill Street Grill in downtown. A highlight of the conversation was $500,000 in federal funding made possible by the Infrastructure Law. The funding will increase the frequency of Amtrak’s Cardinal service from three to seven days per week in the Queen City.

The Cardinal Amtrak route currently connects Virginia cities like Alexandria, Manassas, Culpeper, Charlottesville, Staunton and Clifton Forge to cities like New York City, Chicago, Philadelphia, Baltimore and Washington, D.C.

Increasing the Cardinal service to Staunton’s Amtrak Station from three to seven days will increase passenger access to the Queen City.

Warner said that when he was governor of Virginia from 2002 to 2006, he launched a commission on rail.

The federal Infrastructure Law will provide $66 billion for rail across the United States, and Virginia will receive $796 million of the funding. Of Virginia’s funding, Staunton is receiving $500,000 in grant funding.

A $500,000 grant may not sound like much, Warner said, but it is enough to fund a Corridor Identification and Development Program study to move railroad traffic from three to seven days in Staunton.

“That is the purpose of this grant, to do the study to show the traffic in this corridor,” Warner said.

However, he is certain that the railroad schedule will increase from three to seven days based on the fact that rail traffic has increased 130 percent from Lynchburg and Roanoke.

“If they will operate, people will come,” Warner said of trains.

Rebecca Barnabi

Rebecca Barnabi

Rebecca J. Barnabi is the national editor of Augusta Free Press. A graduate of the University of Mary Washington, she began her journalism career at The Fredericksburg Free-Lance Star. In 2013, she was awarded first place for feature writing in the Maryland, Delaware, District of Columbia Awards Program, and was honored by the Virginia School Boards Association’s 2019 Media Honor Roll Program for her coverage of Waynesboro Schools. Her background in newspapers includes writing about features, local government, education and the arts.