Virginia currently contracts with Amtrak to operate passenger rail service between Roanoke and Washington, D.C., along Norfolk Southern Railway’s (NSR) mainline and N-line. This study forecasts a further expansion southwest in Virginia to Bristol. The 2021 Bristol Cost Analysis forecasts the capital cost in 2030 dollars, the ridership and revenue potential, and the operating and maintenance costs of a potential extension of the Washington-Roanoke Amtrak route (Route 46) between the New River Valley and Bristol.
DRPT reviewed eight previous studies developed between 1996 and 2019 to understand methodology for ridership and cost estimates. The current study is an independent estimate built upon earlier work with updated service assumptions, cost information, and methodology considerations.
DRPT concluded the costs to extend passenger rail service from the New River Valley to Bristol based on a single round-trip per weekday and a Saturday/Sunday round trip and on forecasted annual one-way net new riders of between 9,700 and 15,500. Capital costs range between $535 million and $1,541 million in 2030 dollars, and operating and maintenance costs range between $5.01 million and $5.56 million annually. Forecasts of operating and maintenance costs and revenue for 2030 indicate that between $4.5 million and $4.9 million will be required annually to provide service to Bristol.