Virginia agrees to pay for intrastate Amtrak service

Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell (R) said the deal was essential to moving people around in his state.

"Over 1.5 million people either board or disembark on a train in Virginia," McDonnell said in a statement. "Stopping regional Amtrak service in the Commonwealth was not an option. With this agreement between Virginia and Amtrak, we can continue to provide for existing regional intercity passenger rail service and work toward extending new service from Lynchburg into Roanoke and extend more service to Norfolk. I'm pleased that Virginia was the first state able to sign this agreement."

Amtrak CEO Joe Boardman called Virginia "a forward-thinking leader" on cost-sharing deals that have been implemented between the company and states since the 2008 Passenger Rail Investment and Improvement Act.

"Virginia recognizes the value, mobility and economic development that Amtrak service brings to the state and local communities," Boardman said.

Congress is scheduled to debate a new version of the rail law this fall because the current version of the law is set to expire in September.

Republicans in the House have sought in recent years to reduce Amtrak's funding from the federal government. The company has received about $1 billion per year since its inception in 1971, but a recent House Transportation and Housing funding bill included a 21 percent cut in Amtrak's funding.

-This post was updated with new information at 2:50 p.m.