450 - 500 passengers ? That must make VA DOT very happy. As well 157 at RNK. The published 70 passengers on AM-1s and 60 on AM-2s means the train is near capacity. 70 x 8 coaches = 560 + lounge = 9 car limit. Even if all cars are AM-1s then capacity may still need increasing at RNK layover facility ? Any links to the pictures of RNK layover to see if it can be expanded ? Granted this is a high demand time of the year but just starting the service we may expect demand to increase as the original Lynchburg train did over 2 years ?
Checking the schedule for Virginia Tech, the university Thanksgiving holiday begins on Saturday, Nov. 18. So the train presumably had a large number of students taking the train north on Friday & Saturday. And students heading home from colleges on the NEC. Even without the holiday break, the northbound train likely will get a lot of business at RNK, LYH, CVS from college students on Saturday mornings during the school year. Wait to see what the passenger numbers are in January, February, July.
If you look at the draft Virginia State Rail Plan, adding a second train to Roanoke is on the list. Since adding a second train to Lynchburg has been in the funded plans for a while, I expect we will see a second Regional to Roanoke while proposals for extending service beyond Roanoke will be stalled in studies for many years. Now that VDOT & Amtrak have extended service to NFK and LYH -> RNK, better to improve the service with additional daily trains to NFK, RNK, perhaps a 3rd one to NPN, and trimming the travel times with track upgrade projects in the coming years than extend to Bristol which presents a lot of challenges.