SUFFOLK, Va. (WAVY) — Amtrak continues to pick up business in Hampton Roads. The carrier just added a third daily departure from Norfolk in the past month.
The route goes right by Suffolk and local residents say it would be nice if the train would stop there too, instead of passengers having to drive to Norfolk.
“I’ve been using that for several years now and it’s been the same thing,” said Suffolk resident Danny Epperson. “The train leaves Norfolk and goes right back through Suffolk where I came from.”
Citizens there believe it will bring more business and encourage people to utilize public transit.
It’s been almost 25 years since the last train stopped at the old train station in Suffolk, but a local group believes it would be great to see that station back in use again.
Danny Epperson says he likes to travel to Richmond and Washington DC and enjoys taking the train. Right now, he has to travel all the way to the Norfolk station near Harbor Park to get on the Amtrak train, then the train comes right back through Suffolk.
“For me, the drive to Norfolk is about 30 minutes, then you’ve got the tolls to go through either tunnel,” said Epperson. “There’s a little bit more cost for me to go there and for others.”
He started the group “Build an Amtrak stop in Suffolk, Virginia” on Facebook and was surprised how many others were on board.
“It’s people who say I use it all the time, it’ll be convenient, I’d be able to see my family more,” said Epperson. “I just think, with those testimonials and those stories, to think of the economic benefit for the city having people come here.”
He then reached out to Suffolk City Council Member Don Goldberg who believes this would be great for the city.
“I mean, it’s a 5-minute stop. It doesn’t take much to come here and stop and go to Petersburg,” said Goldberg. “If they’re coming to wait for the train we have restaurants they could go to and get business out of it too.”
He believes this could bring business and people into town, so he brought it up to his fellow council members at the last meeting and is now in contact with state lawmakers about it.
“Let’s get going, let’s get to studying this and see what we can do and reach out to the different state organizations and federal organizations and see if we can get something here,” said Council Member Goldberg.
Goldberg says the train used to stop in Suffolk in the ’70s and he remembers riding it as a kid.
“For me, it was a fun way of travel,” said Goldberg. “It was a great experience just to sit on the train.”
“Some people say, ‘Is it worth the expense?’ ‘It will take a long time,’ but you know we’ve got to start somewhere,” said Epperson.
Even if the existing stop isn’t feasible for Amtrak, both believe it would do well in Suffolk no matter where it is.
“For it to exist on this site it may not be a feasible thing for Amtrak to look here because of the location, size but there are plenty of places that I have seen several times while riding,” said Epperson. “Whether it’s here or wherever it is in Suffolk, I would just like to see something like this come true.”
The Facebook group currently has more than 500 members.
Amtrak says it’s very early in the process but, “it is encouraging to know of the interest to bring Amtrak service to Suffolk.”