Charlottesville Union Station

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Charlottesville, VA
1160 The Charlottesville Virginia, AMTRAK Station.jpg
Charlottesville station in July 2009
Location810 West Main Street
Charlottesville, Virginia, U.S.
Coordinates38°01′53″N 78°29′31″W / 38.03139°N 78.49194°W / 38.03139; -78.49194Coordinates: 38°01′53″N 78°29′31″W / 38.03139°N 78.49194°W / 38.03139; -78.49194
Owned byUnion Station Partners LLC
Line(s)Junction between Buckingham Branch Railroad Washington Subdivision / CSX Transportation North Mountain Subdivision and Norfolk Southern Railway Washington District
Platforms2 side platforms (1 on each line)
Tracks4 (2 on each line)
Parking10 short-term and 165 long-term parking spaces available
Disabled accessYes
Other information
Station codeCVS, (station details)
Rebuilt1915, mid–1990s
2018133,936 annually[1]Decrease 8.37% (Amtrak)
Preceding station BSicon LOGO Amtrak2.svg Amtrak Following station
toward Chicago
Cardinal Culpeper
toward New York
Lynchburg Crescent
toward Roanoke
Northeast Regional Culpeper
Former services
Preceding station Southern Railway Following station
Hickory Hill
toward Birmingham
Main Line Rio
Preceding station BSicon LOGO Amtrak2.svg Amtrak Following station
toward Chicago
James Whitcomb Riley Charlottesville (Main St. Sta.)

The Charlottesville Union Station, located in Charlottesville, Virginia, United States, is served by Amtrak's Cardinal, Crescent, and daily Northeast Regional passenger trains. It is Amtrak's third-busiest station in Virginia,[1] aside from its all-auto Auto Train station in Lorton. The station is situated in the northeast quadrant of the junction between two railway lines. The Cardinal uses the east–west line, owned by the state of Virginia, and formerly by CSX Transportation, and operated by the Buckingham Branch Railroad, while other services use the north–south line owned and operated by Norfolk Southern Railway. The station is within walking distance of the University of Virginia, which is the major employer in the area.


The original Union Station was built in 1885 to jointly serve the Charlottesville and Rapidan Railroad, the Virginia Midland Railway, and the Chesapeake and Ohio Railway. Major renovations in 1915 included the construction of a baggage handling facility.

Main Street Station in August 1974

When Amtrak took over most intercity passenger rail service in 1971, the Southern Railway opted to continue running the Southern Crescent itself, at Union Station. The James Whitcomb Riley (later the Cardinal) used Main Street Station to the east, as well as stopping at Union Station until early in 1977.[2] The last train between Charlottesville and Richmond ran on June 14, 1976, when the Amtrak changed the route of the James Whitcomb Riley.[3] Afflicted with rising costs, the Southern Railway relented and turned the Southern Crescent over to Amtrak on February 1, 1979. Amtrak renamed it as the Crescent and made Union Station the Charlottesville stop for the Cardinal as well.[4]

For most of the next three decades, the only trains calling at Charlottesville were the Crescent, which arrived northbound during the morning rush and southbound in the evening, and the thrice weekly Cardinal, which arrived westbound at lunchtime and eastbound before the afternoon rush. In 2009, Amtrak extended a Northeast Regional round-trip to Lynchburg (since extended to Roanoke) by way of Charlottesville.

Since 1999, the former baggage handling facility is home to the Amtrak ticket office and waiting area. The main facility has been privately developed into the commercial restaurant, Wild Wing Cafe. Plans coincident with the redevelopment to create a transportation hub at Union Station were not realized. Instead, in 2007 Charlottesville completed the Downtown Transit Center one mile across town.[5]

However, the station does serve as an intermodal transportation nexus, with connecting Amtrak Thruway Motorcoach service to Richmond Staples Mill Road station for some trains there, a 200-plus-space parking lot, and access to a Greyhound Lines bus station several blocks away. The Virginia Breeze, a bus service sponsored by the Virginia Department of Rail and Public Transportation, stops a few miles to the west at a shopping center.[6] These services allow Charlottesville travelers to reach various airports and other destinations in the region.[7] The Charlottesville Free Trolley stops just north of the station, and connects Downtown and the University of Virginia.

Out of the twenty-one Virginia stations, Charlottesville is the fourth busiest, according to the FY2018 ridership.[1] This is mainly due to the large number of passengers traveling between this station and Washington, Baltimore and points north.


In December 2019 the Commonwealth of Virginia purchased CSX Transportation's Buckingham Branch track and right-of-way from Clifton Forge, Virginia to Charlottesville, and onward to Doswell, Virginia, north of Richmond.[8] The western segment hosts the Cardinal, while the eastern segment facilitates future passenger service between Charlottesville and Richmond, as outlined in the 2017 Virginia Statewide Rail Plan.[9][10] It covers the same route used by the James Whitcomb Riley in 1976. The state is leasing the line to CSX and Buckingham Branch for its current uses.


  1. ^ a b c "Amtrak Fact Sheet, Fiscal Year 2018, Commonwealth of Virginia" (PDF). Amtrak. 2018.
  2. ^
  3. ^ Sanders, Craig (2006). Amtrak in the Heartland. Indiana University Press. p. 40. ISBN 9780253027931.
  4. ^ Nagasaki, Hikki. "Charlottesville, Virginia". USA Rail Guide. TrainWeb. Retrieved 11 July 2016.
  5. ^ Charlottesville Tomorrow, Transportation Matrix Archived November 1, 2007, at the Wayback Machine. Retrieved November 2, 2007.
  6. ^
  7. ^ Hawes Spencer (2007-06-22). "Riding the rails: It's the only way to fly". The Hook. Charlottesville. Retrieved 2011-06-30.
  8. ^ "Transforming Rail VA".
  9. ^
  10. ^

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