The results of a long awaited study on the feasibility of an Amtrak stop in Bedford will be revealed at a community meeting at the Bedford Welcome Center hosted by the Virginia Department of Rail and Public Transportation set for Monday.
The Bedford/Franklin Regional Passenger Rail Stop Study kicked off in 2019. That year Virginia’s Commonwealth Transportation Board approved $300,000 to conduct a planning study on adding a train platform in the town.
Efforts to add a Bedford stop have also been pushed by the Bedford/Franklin Regional Rail Initiative committee for several years before the study was announced. The group even held an early-morning demonstration in 2017 holding signs that read “stop here” as a Amtrak train passed through Bedford from a newly created stop in Roanoke on its way to Lynchburg.
Emily Stock, chief of rail transportation for the Virginia Department of Transportation, said the Oct. 25 community meeting will provide the results of the feasibility study which will include potential costs to create the stop, foretasted ridership and the results of a survey of potential riders held in 2019.
The results of the study were originally planned for a community meeting in 2020. Stock said plans were delayed due to the pandemic as well as a study of freight and passenger rail currently using the rail line. The study provides an analysis of what impact a stop will have on network fluidity, she said.
“We decided to hold off on a public meeting until we got these results,” Stock said.
While the state agency will be providing more information on the study at Monday's meeting, Stock said plans are already in place for Amtrak to provide transportation from Bedford to the Lynchburg rail stop. Amtrak will be providing Amtrak Thruway buses to transport riders staring this spring.
Stock said Amtrak Thruway has been used successfully in other areas of Virginia. Thruway is currently used to transport passengers from Norfolk to Virginia Beach.
“This could be the first step in gauge interest and popularity,” Stock said of the Thruway stop in the Town of Bedford.
The open house is scheduled for 5:30 p.m. Monday at the Bedford Area Welcome Center in Bedford. The event can also be viewed virtually by registering at https://register.gotowebinar.com/register/4830087928685717003.