Chesterfield County officials and the community of Ettrick welcomed Amtrak’s 40th anniversary engine carrying cars, as well as the official private cars, loaded with Amtrak officers and visitors to the Ettrick train station – Petersburg stop. It was a whistle stop train tour celebration for the new Amtrak Virginia service connecting Norfolk to Amtrak’s Northeast Corridor. Last Tuesday, the event at the station, re-introduced hundreds of residents to the sleepy station that had not seen the numbers of people attending the event since its opening in 1955.
The Department of Rail and Public Transportation (DRPT) is investigating how it might expand the new passenger rail service beyond the Norfolk to Richmond route. The DRPT is working toward an upgrade to the rail running south of the James River to Ettrick and then north to Richmond to operate trains up to 79 mph; eventually, high-speed rail would run along the same route at a maximum of 90 mph.
Chesterfield County hosted the historic public event, presented by the Virginia Department of Rail and Public Transportation, Amtrak, Norfolk Southern Railway and CSX, in cooperation with various federal, state and local officials. The county had a sizable representation with displays of county programs and departments. Matoaca High School Marching Band entertained the guests throughout the event. Petersburg and Ettrick also gave a welcome with displays of tourism and history. Ettrick’s university, Virginia State University (VSU), was well represented with their boys and girls basketball team and their marching band, who also entertained during the event. No indication of high-speed rail was evident.
County Administrator James J.L. Stegmaier and Chesterfield County Board of Supervisors Vice-Chair Dorothy A. Jaeckle welcomed attendees. After the arrival of the inaugural train with Virginia Secretary of Transportation Sean T. Connaughton, Ellen Fitzsimmons of CSX, Wick Moorman of Norfolk Southern Railway and others, Matoaca District Supervisor Stephen A. Elswick made brief remarks before a ribbon cutting ceremony.
The new service will be an economic boon to the region, and will enable students from VSU, members of the nearby Fort Lee community and Chesterfield County residents and others who travel by train to access the Hampton Roads area, as well as the nation’s capital and the extensive network of locations that Amtrak serves.
Ettrick Train Station is located at 3616 South St., in Ettrick Village.