ROANOKE, Va. – The first Amtrak passenger train to take off out of Roanoke in nearly 40 years has left the Star City.
More than 240 passengers booked a ticket for the 6:19 a.m. trip out of Roanoke. The train will make stops in Lynchburg, Charlottesville, Washington, D.C., New York City and Boston as well as other major cities throughout the Northeast.
While this is a plan that's been years in the making, excitement for passenger rail travel in the Roanoke Valley has been building for even longer.
"I've been waiting for this day since 1995," says David Kingsley, who was the first passenger to the station. "I've been on four trips behind the 611 Steam Locomotive, but I've been waiting for restored passenger service like this for a long time."
Another of the first passengers to arrive at the platform, Benjamin Diamond, traveled from South Carolina for this historic ride. He rode a train from North Charleston to Richmond Monday night and caught a bus into Roanoke. He says it was all worth it to be one of the first people on Tuesday morning's Amtrak train.
"I started making plans about a year ago," says Benjamin. "Then once I figured out when the train was going to start service three months ago, that's when I bought the ticket."
On weekdays, the train will be leaving the Roanoke platform at 6:19 a.m. and returning at 9:55 p.m. every day. On weekends, train service will leave Roanoke at 8:40 a.m. with various arrivals back into town.