New Amtrak terminal opens in Norfolk

Posted at 6:57 PM, Dec 02, 2013
and last updated 2013-12-02 18:57:34-05

It costs 4 million dollars and has only one train departure a day, but Norfolk leaders say the new Amtrak terminal is a huge step in getting more regular service to the city.

With a snip of oversized scissors, Norfolk mayor Paul Fraim officially opened the city's multi-million dollar train station. It's the first one in the city since Norfolk's Union Station was torn down in the 1960s.

It might seem odd that Norfolk is returning to such old technology, but the mayor says the city is so hemmed in by water, and the roads across the water are so clogged, that soon the only efficient way in or out will be on rails.

"We have to go through rivers, you're up against an ocean, you have to go through harbors, so we need transit to relieve some of the congestion on our bridges and tunnels right now," Fraim said.

There was no Amtrak train at the ceremony, because it leaves only once a day, and well before sunrise.

Former Congresswoman Thelma Drake, now the state's director of rail and public transportation, says the state has the money for more train service, but the state's tracks aren't yet ready for it.

"Where we are working is how to expand those choices. So starting with one is a good thing as we work toward the future," she says.

So for now, the tracks will rumble with just a single daily train with a moonlight departure. But she says getting up early to beat the interstate traffic to her at least, is worth it.