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WCYB Story – Bristol, Tennessee backs idea to bring passenger rail back to the area

WCYB – April 11, 2023 | By Ashely Hoak

BRISTOL, Tenn. (WCYB) — The idea to bring passenger rail back to Bristol has been in talks for years, with optimism now growing in the community.

The Federal Rail Administration recently approved Virginia’s Statewide Rail Plan, which includes an effort to secure federal funding to expand passenger rail service to the area.

As those talks chug along, the city of Bristol, Tennessee is now backing the plan, approving a resolution formalizing support for the Bristol Train Station Foundation and fundraising efforts.

Bristol, Tennessee backs idea to bring passenger rail back to the area (WCYB Photo)

“We wanted to really make a clear statement to the powers that be about the possibility of train service returning to Bristol after about 50 years,” said Mark Hutton, Vice Mayor of Bristol, Tennessee.

“We are trying to increase awareness and show that we have community support for passenger train service,” added Dan Bieger, Bristol Train Station Foundation, President.

The measure will essentially help with the process of applying for grants, to get the train station ready for passengers.

“When Amtrak moves on its way down the line to Bristol, there will be come requirements that they are going to ask us to do like a certain platform, and it’s got to be built in a certain way, have to have certain electronics to do the tickets and stuff,” said Bieger.

News 5 asked: What would it mean to bring passenger rail back here to Bristol — what kind of impact would it have?

“It will just increase everybody’s ability to travel and takes some of the pressure off the interstates and the airlines,” answered Bieger.

“I think it’s a great opportunity for not only the city, but the entire region,” added Vince Turner, Mayor of Bristol, Tennessee.

With these conversations just beginning on the idea to bring passenger rail back, News 5 also asked if the city of Bristol, Tennessee has contributed any money to the efforts.

“Just the news that they are even talking about it is great,” said Hutton. “We haven’t talked about any funding as a city, but you know, who knows, probably that would happen in the future, but there’s nothing on the table.”

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