Windsor not chosen for passenger train stop

Published 9:48 am Wednesday, December 7, 2011

WINDSOR—The Town of Windsor has not been chosen as a rail stop for passenger trains that will run between Norfolk and Petersburg beginning in 2013.

Windsor Mayor Carita Richardson, who supports a stop, did not want to comment on the decision because she had not heard anything official.

“We will try to get some information,” Richardson said. “I realize with these economic times and government cutting funding, it might not be possible.”

The issue is not dead.

“We will continue to evaluate future potential station locations as the service gets further under way,” said Kim Kovac, a communications specialist with the Virginia Department of Rail and Public Transportation.

The service will take riders on a 79-mph trip between Norfolk and Petersburg and eventually to Richmond, Washington and points farther north. It will run along existing Norfolk Southern tracks, though significant upgrades are needed to make for a smoother ride.

Supporters of the project say it will help reduce congestion on Virginia’s interstates.

Virginia and Norfolk Southern Railway a year ago signed an agreement to bring daily passenger rail through Isle of Wight County. Richardson, Windsor Town Council and Isle of Wight County officials proposed making Windsor a stop. Officials believed getting a station in Windsor would be a boon to the town’s and county’s economy.

Richardson said Monday having a stop in Windsor could alleviate congestion from motorists who would opt to take the train.

“We had looked into working with our sister towns, like Smithfield, and developing some tourism packages,” she said.

The agreement provided for upgrading Norfolk Southern tracks between Norfolk and Petersburg so they are suitable for use by passenger trains. Funded by an $87 million Rail Enhancement Fund grant, the project includes upgraded signaling, track extensions and connections, passenger train turning and servicing facilities, and a track and platform near Norfolk’s Harbor Park for the passenger train.

Also included is construction of a new connection between Norfolk Southern and CSXT tracks near Petersburg. These improvements will enable passenger trains to run on Norfolk Southern’s Heartland Corridor route.

The route between Norfolk and Petersburg is part of Norfolk Southern’s Heartland Corridor, the primary rail route serving the Port of Hampton Roads. The Heartland Corridor opened to handle double-stacked container trains in August 2010, providing a more direct route between Norfolk and the Midwest.