November 02, 2022

Manchin: Amtrak Long-Distance Study Directed by Bipartisan Infrastructure Law Is Long Overdue

Charleston, WV – Today, U.S. Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV) applauded the launch of the Amtrak Daily Long-Distance Service Study through the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) Federal Railroad Administration (FRA). The study was made possible by the bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA) and will evaluate the potential for daily long-distance intercity rail passenger service and new Amtrak long-distance routes, including the Cardinal route which travels through West Virginia.

“The launch of the Amtrak Daily Long-Distance Service Study to evaluate passenger rail transportation options – including the Amtrak Cardinal line in West Virginia – is long overdue, which is why I fought to include this critical study in the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law,” said Senator Manchin. “I authored this study to review potential options to restore the Cardinal line daily service, which provides access to and from much of West Virginia. The study also presents the opportunity to bolster essential intercity passenger rail connections and build a stronger rail network overall, all while making sure West Virginians and Americans are traveling safely and efficiently. This is an important first step towards restoring daily service on the Cardinal line and I look forward to following the progress of this critical study.”

Amtrak was established by the Rail Passenger Act of 1970 to provide intercity passenger rail service and several long-distance routes were added in the decade following its creation. However, long-distance network service reductions over the past 50 years have resulted in many communities losing common carrier transportation options, as well as the economic and social benefits of those connections. The bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA), which was signed into law on November 15, 2021, directed the FRA to conduct the Amtrak Daily Long-Distance Service Study to assess the potential for daily intercity passenger rail service on Amtrak’s few routes that only offer three-day-a-week service. This includes the Amtrak Cardinal, which passes through West Virginia, connecting key communities and landmarks like the Summit Bechtel National Scout Reserve, the State Capitol in Charleston and Marshall University in Huntington. The Cardinal line is the only train with an Amtrak stop within a National Park – the New River Gorge National Park and Preserve – in the entire United States.

Senator Manchin’s recent efforts to strengthen rail service:

  • On June 6, 2022, Senator Manchin announced $1.6 million from DOT for safety improvements along the Appalachian and Ohio Railroad (A&O) from Grafton to Buckhannon.
  • On May 24, 2022, Senator Manchin led a group of 21 bipartisan Senators in urging U.S. Surface Transportation Board (STB) Chairman Martin Oberman to address the delays and service disruptions currently affecting the U.S. freight rail network.
  • On November 15, 2021, Senator Manchin applauded the signing into law of his Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, which included historic investments in rail and transit systems, as well as language permanently restoring ticket agents that were de-staffed across the country, including in Charleston, WV.
  • On October 18, 2021, Senator Manchin secured a $4 million Congressionally Directed Spending Request, or earmark, for rail infrastructure upgrades at the Port of West Virginia in Brooke County.
  • On July 9, 2021, Senator Manchin visited the Charleston Amtrak Station and reviewed the progress on the platform project.
  • On June 16, 2021, Senator Manchin secured language in the Surface Transportation Investment Act to authorize a study to evaluate ways Amtrak could restore the Cardinal daily service, which passes through West Virginia.
  • On October 20, 2020, Senator Manchin rode the Cardinal Train to attend the Montgomery Amtrak Station ribbon cutting ceremony following a $1.8 million remodel of the platform.
  • On June 26, 2020, Senator Manchin called on Amtrak to commit to resuming daily service for its long-distance routes across the country and provide a detailed timeline on the plan to resume those services.
  • On May 26, 2020, Senator Manchin applauded Amtrak’s announcement of their intent to re-staff the Charleston Amtrak station with ticket agents, following through on a provision Senator Manchin authored in the Fiscal Year (FY) 2020 federal appropriations bill.
For more information on the Amtrak Daily Long-Distance Service Study, please click here.