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Fri Oct 18, 2019, 01:51 PM

Virginia is planning an east-west rail route connecting the Blue Ridge Mountains to the beach

Ummm, the line is not "long-defunct." It's the Norfolk & Western mainline. Norfolk & Western passenger service has been gone for 49 years.

I know exactly where the picture was taken in Rapidan.

Virginia is planning an east-west rail route connecting the Blue Ridge Mountains to the beach
TRANSIT By Wyatt Gordon (Virginia Correspondent) October 16, 2019


Amtrak in Rapidan, Virginia by jpmueller99 licensed under Creative Commons.

Passenger rail advocates and other groups want to resurrect a long-defunct east-west rail line that would run from the Blue Ridge Mountains to Virginia Beach. In its recent report, Virginians for High Speed Rail (VHSR) envisions a “Commonwealth Corridor” to connect Christiansburg and the New River Valley with Hampton Roads, and would include stops at Roanoke, Lynchburg, Charlottesville, and Richmond.

The Pocahontas, the Mountaineer, and the Hilltopper today sound more like the names of luxury apartment buildings or $15 craft cocktails. In their heyday, however, these three passenger trains served as a vital transportation artery across the country, connecting Virginia with Chicago and the west.

The Pocahontas debuted in Norfolk to grand fanfare in 1926, but was discontinued after more than four decades of service due to sinking ridership. It couldn’t compete against the proliferation of the personal automobile and the enormous subsidies the federal government poured into the interstate system.

After a four-year lull, the Mountaineer reinstated service along this corridor in 1975, thanks to pressure from West Virginia Senator Robert Byrd. But ridership remained low. Amtrak discontinued service beyond Catlettsburg, Kentucky and rebranded the route as the Hilltopper. It 1978 it had only an average of 33 passengers per train, so the Carter administration terminated all service the following year.

Now more than 40 years later, VHSR has revived the effort to connect Virginia by rail. This new link would chart a different course than its predecessors by connecting Virginia’s two existing north-south rail alignments between Richmond and Charlottesville, rather than passing along the historical and more southern route from Petersburg to Lynchburg via Farmville.

Virginia’s Statewide Rail Plan shows the route could one day be extended as far west as Bristol.


Wyatt Gordon is Greater Greater Washington's Virginia Correspondent. He's a born-and-raised Richmonder with a master's in Urban Planning from the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa and a bachelor's in International Political Economy from American University. Previously he's written for the Times of India, Nairobi News, Civil Beat, Style Weekly, and RVA Magazine. You can find him on Richmond's Southside.

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Reply Virginia is planning an east-west rail route connecting the Blue Ridge Mountains to the beach (Original post)
mahatmakanejeeves Oct 18 OP
markbark Oct 21 #1
mahatmakanejeeves Oct 21 #2

Response to mahatmakanejeeves (Original post)

Mon Oct 21, 2019, 11:42 AM

1. Hmm....

I know they mentioned the interstate system in the OP, but isn't the easiest way to get to Richmond from Charlottesville still I-64?
Where's the right-of-way for this new rail line?

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Response to markbark (Reply #1)

Mon Oct 21, 2019, 11:47 AM

2. That's the old Virginia Central, aka the Chesapeake and Ohio Railway's Piedmont Subdivision.

You start your journey in Richmond at the Main Street station. Go north for about twenty miles, and then turn left. You cross the RF&P at Doswell. Keep going to the WNW through Bumpass, Louisa, and Gordonsville. Make another left turn and head SSW to Charlottesville.

A picture is worth a thousand words:

Chesapeake & Ohio Piedmont Subdivision

A Quick Tour

The Piedmont Sub began in Richmond’s 17th Street Yard, a little north and west of Main Street Station. From there, it headed north, roughly parallel to the RF&P. Eventually the line turned west, crossing the RF&P at Doswell. It then headed west and slightly north through Mineral and Louisa to Gordonsville. The line in this area was mostly single track and ran through lands forested with a mix of deciduous and evergreen trees. Gordonsville was the junction with the C&O’s Washington Sub. Past Gordonsville, the line ran south and west through Lindsay and Keswick. The Piedmont Sub ended in Charlottesville (but see here), where the C&O’s name trains had their consists shifted for the run over the Mountain Sub.

The Piedmont Sub was the oldest section of the C&O: it was chartered as the Louisa Railroad in 1836. This site is intended to chronicle the history and development of the Piedmont Sub. If you have information or photos you would be willing to share, please contact me at the address listed below. If I can collect sufficient information, I’d eventually like to publish this material in book form.


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