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Lawyers on a train

Travel to Washington has often been an issue for Virginia lawyers. It’s too close to fly, but driving poses unavoidable risks.

You might get caught in one of those all-too-frequent traffic jams on I-95 and arrive hours late. Or you might take one of forty-three possible wrong turns in the Mixing Bowl and wind up in Lower Bladensburg instead of K Street.

Not to mention, your client (or her insurance carrier) might balk at paying hundreds by the hour for you to look through a windshield.

Hampton Roads practitioners with business in Washington or points north get a new alternative in December. They can board trains at an Amtrak station in Norfolk and ride the rails to DC, New York or Boston without leaving their seats, according to an announcement from Gov. Bob McDonnell’s office.

The Norfolk to Washington ticket will be just $38 one way, probably a bargain when you figure you can work along the way using Amtrak’s wi-fi service.

But there is a further price to pay in your time, which of course translates to dollars on your bill. The schedule shows the Norfolk-Washington trip takes about five hours each way. Compare that to Internet estimates of about three-and-a-half hours to drive from Norfolk to Union Station.

Norfolk’s weekday train to DC will leave at the eye-rubbing hour of 4:50 a.m. for arrival at 9:44.

The delay may result from a stop at Ettrick, near Petersburg.

The coming passenger rail service from Norfolk adds to service already available for riders in Richmond and Lynchburg, all supported in part by Virginia tax dollars.
–Peter Vieth

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