TRANSFORMING RAIL IN VIRGINIA
Virginia Department of Rail and Public Transportation
On December 19, 2019, Governor Ralph Northam announced a landmark agreement launching a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity transforming rail in the Commonwealth. The purpose is to grow Virginia’s economy by $2 billion annually and improve mobility by expanding and improving Amtrak, VRE and freight rail services. Improvements to freight rail services will increase rail capacity to support the Port of Virginia, which is becoming increasingly dependent upon freight rail to move goods to and from the Port.
Virginia’s interstate capacity is continuing to decline. Across Virginia, travelers currently experience 230 million hours of delay resulting in $6.5 billion in annual congestion costs. Current conditions and increasing demand means more throughput capacity is needed in Virginia’s interstate corridors and passenger rail provides the most cost-effective solution in the short and long term.
At the same time, passenger rail performance cannot improve, and services cannot grow, without expanding the existing infrastructure. Amtrak and VRE trains suffer delays repeatedly from train interference due to congestion on the railroad. The current Long Bridge over the Potomac River is one of the most significant rail bottlenecks along the entire East Coast of the United States. Long Bridge is currently at 98% capacity during the peak period. The agreement with CSXT will directly address these constraints and improve mobility for Virginians.