Any news on the possibility of a new line from Culpeper to Front Royal (including a 4 mile tunnel under the Blue Ridge?)
As recently as 2009, NS was actively studying cutting off the current "V" shaped routing on the top end of its Piedmont line in the Crescent corridor: where trains coming up the I-95 alignment today pass through Culpeper VA and run northeast to Manassas before turning nearly due west back out to Front Royal.
Under study is a cutoff that would essentially halve the distance and avoid the current and future VRE commuter service in the Manassas area.
The cutoff would run from approximately Culpeper VA northwest to Front Royal through Rappahanock County. Both Culpeper and Front Royal are exurbs of DC and are each at about the theoretical limits of a daily VRE commute (at about 65 miles from DC Union Station). Bypassing both, along with Manassas would not only speed North-South freight routings, it would enable NS to sell the Front Royal-Manassas and Culpeper-Manassas routes to VRE for a handsome price.