• VRE steams ahead on future expansion plans

  • Discussion related to DC area passenger rail services from Northern Virginia to Baltimore, MD. Includes Light Rail and Baltimore Subway.
Discussion related to DC area passenger rail services from Northern Virginia to Baltimore, MD. Includes Light Rail and Baltimore Subway.

Moderators: mtuandrew, therock, Robert Paniagua

  by Joke Insurance
Arlington wrote:
Joke Insurance wrote:I'd also like to see the Warrenton Spur/Warrenton Branch Greenway convert into VRE use.
Give the 2040 Plan a read, because it gives you a sense of what's "possible" in the next 25 years. As far as new trackage goes, there's nothing in the works beyond Haymarket and Spotsy. Mostly you get additional tracks and platforms and the addition of peak-express, reverse-peak, and off-peak (weekend) trains, and potentially through-running with MARC once we get a new Long Bridge over the Potomac (an extension of VRE to Silver Spring, Greenbelt and New Carrollton would be easier to finance than anything in Warrenton. No sexy map growth, but it's going to put trains where the proven demand (and "free" tracks) and growth are.
My apologies for the belated reply.

Reading that specific paragraph, it sounds like you were replying to my idea about having MARC come to Winchester via the Brunswick Line but you mentioned mainly VRE.

If you read this again, can you please elaborate on this?

Thank you.
  by Arlington
The VRE site reflects the general trend that VRE's planning has gone stale
2040 Plan is now here:
https://www.vre.org/development/20401/" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

The energy is all coming from the State VA DRPT and is focused on 3 projects:
- Dulles Metrorail, which creates park-and-ride access from points all along Route 7 (Leesburg/Winchester) from its terminus in Ashburn. For now, Route 7 is fairly uncongested, so if you were supercommuting from Winchester to Tysons, your next billion-dollar rail expansion is a Metro train from Ashburn, not something coming out NS from Haymarket or down from Martinsburg (and probably will remain so for the next 40 ~ 50 years).

- HOT Lanes on I-66 to Haymarket, which sucks a lot of growth potential out of Manassas VRE, and puts transit riders onto express buses that can operate in the new HOT (express) lanes all the way to the Potomac in DC.

- HOT Lanes on I-95/395, which similarly say transit = buses.

Once the $ from the I-95/395 HOTs comes rolling in, the state has earmarked its share for adding tracks to the RF&P (making either a 3rd or 4th track, where today there are 2 or 3), which will be used to accommodate both VRE and additional Amtrak service (again, mostly dependent on a new Long Bridge).

But for now, the big "route expansion" transit investments in VRE territory are going into express lanes and buses, not rail. So the 2040 is still fairly valid (in not doing much rail in the near-term), and the state is probably right in thinking that rail investments aren't needed in the next 10 years as we digest the initiatives, above.

And we must get a new Long Bridge before we can talk about any new rail frequencies (VRE or Amtrak Virginia)

(My personal "crazy transit pitch" remains extending 1 VRE train r/t per day to Charlottesville, but, you know, having ridden the http://catchthevabreeze.com" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false; bus, adding elegantly timed buses seems the better option)
  by Arlington
I'm reviving this thread, inspired by both the recent deal VA cut with CSX, the no-deal-yet with NS, the fact that VRE has "underused" slots across the Long Bridge, and, lastly, the length of NYP-Montauk commuter trips (quoting eolesen from another thread)
eolesen wrote: Fri Jan 10, 2020 4:41 am Penn to Montauk is 120 miles, and that's all LIRR. No reason that a 90-100 mile trip can't use commuter service equipment.
CVS-WAS is 112 miles. The popular objection "who'd ride a CR for 112 miles?" has several answers:
- LIRR Montauk riders, that's who, especially given a chance to spread out (for the first hour)
- anyone who currently rides a bus would consider it an upgrade
- anyone who currently drives and gets stuck in traffic would consider it an upgrade
- anyone from CVS or CLP who wants a full, car-free day in WAS (schedule over comfort) or who prefers Amtrak in one direction but needs an option to save them a hotel stay.

Imagine taking 2 trainsets, that currently start at Broad Run, but overnighting them somewhere on the newly-VADRPT-purchased Buckingham Branch (say, at a place that'd make a good "Broad Run style" yard-and-park-and-ride and intercept riders from further out the highway system I-64 and US250 in this case.

Picture Ivy Rd at the US250 "beltway" because downtown Charlottesville traffic is bad enough as it is, or at Crozet which has space for two sidings and switching them onto NS at CVS
and running them from/to CVS for 1:20 additional hours than their current Broad Run Start:

VRE 328 Dp CVS at 5:10am, serve Culpeper at 6:00am rejoining its schedule at Broad Run at 6:35a (WAS at 7:54a)
VRE 330 Dp CVS at 6:00am, serve Culpeper at 6:50am rejoining its schedule at Broad Run at 7:20a, (WAS at 8:39)
AMTK 20 Dp CVS at 7:09am, serve Culpeper at 8:01am and gets into WAS at 9:53a
NER 176 Dp CVS at 8:53am, serve Culpeper at 9:44am and gets into WAS at 11:20a

NER 171 Dp WAS at 4:50 pm and arrive CVS at 7:23 pm
VRE 333 Dp WAS at 5:30pm (as usual) but would be extended at 6:49p and arrive CVS at 8:15pm
AMTK 19 Dp WAS at 6:30 pm and arrive CVS at 8:47 pm
VRE 337 Dp WAS at 6:50 pm (as susual) but would be extended at 8:09p and arrive CVS at 9:35pm
Last edited by Arlington on Fri Jan 10, 2020 8:38 pm, edited 1 time in total.
  by dgvrengineer
I really like that idea. I need an earlier departure from Culpeper. 20 is too unreliable and 176 gets in DC kinda late(around noon). I'm sure however, NS will require re-double tracking the entire route(which needs to be done anyway). There is a small yard just south of the Charlottesville station. Not sure how much it is used by NS. Going from south NS to west BB or vise versa would required a new connection which VA DRPT has looked at for the Cardinal.
  by Arlington
For VADRPT as the new proprietor of the BB, there seem to be several choices at CVS:
1) adding the connection from BB to NS at CVS station
2) Routing any VRE that start on BB via Orange and rejoin NS there (as the Cardinal does)*
3) NS is a 4-track ROW south of CVS and seems frequently to have space for even more width

* Tough call for Virginia: whom to upgrade: NS or BB between Charlottesville and Orange. I think upgrading NS makes more sense.
  by Arlington
mtuandrew wrote: Fri Jan 10, 2020 10:00 pm I think upgrading NS makes more sense too, but Virginia doesn’t own NS, it owns the ex-C&O Buckingham Branch. Also, Gordonsville could use service.
Hmm. If more service for Gordonsville (and the idea, generally, of a stop--or two-- between CVS and CLP) is desirable, then Virginia, as owner of the BB should make the investment in:
- improving BB so that all passenger service--VRE or Amtrak uses it
- Building the connection at CVS to allow the Crescent to do NS<-->BB

The advantage here is that Virginia could build 4 nice "VRE+" platforms on the BB without worrying about stopped trains fouling NS operations.
- Orange... on the BB side of town
- Gordonsville, someplace that could serve both CVS-WAS and CVS-RVR
- Shadwell @ I-64
- Charlottesville on the C&O side of the station
  by mtuandrew
Arlington: I know Amtrak doesn’t like curved platforms, but the best place for both the Orange and Gordonsville platforms is smack-dab in the center of both wyes. Also, what benefit is there to a Shadwell stop? It’s like 10 minutes more to CVS with next to no population. If you absolutely insist, there might be a tour group market for a Monticello flag stop, but even that seems like overkill.
  by Arlington
I would do Shadwell (or Ivy Rd/US250) as a park-and-ride stop to serve the metro area. Downtown Charlottesville rush hour traffic is awful.

Fredericksburg VA needed the Spotsylvania station, MSS needed Broad Run. In both cases to handle significant "not downtown" and "drive beyond" demand.

Whenever rail service terminates--and I am picturing CVS as a long term Amtrak/VRE hybrid--there seems to be park and ride demand that you'd want to tap off at a highway/bypass location.

(We see this too at WAS/NCR, RVM/RVR, BAL/BWI, BOS/RTE)
  by njtmnrrbuff
I think running VRE from DC to Charlottesville would probably be overkill. Once you get west of Manassas, the towns become more spread out, I think. That's why it would be great for more Amtrak service from the Blue Ridge region to begin. Maybe have Amtrak stopi in Orange. The NS Crescent Line needs to be double track wherever it is single track. It seems like the arrangement of those people who live west of Manassas and parking at Broad Run Station works fine. Those types of stations are very important as they entice people to find enough parking rather than having to drive all the way into a downtown station. Plenty of passenger rail roads, both Amtrak and commuter rail, have one station in a downtown area while there is a station either on the outskirts or in one of the surrounding towns that is meant to be a park n ride station. On the NEC, in New Brunswick, transit has a station right smack in the heart of downtown and then about a mile west is Jersey Avenue which is and have always been very poorly laid out. It's great when commuting from Jersey Ave to points east during the week in the morning, but in the afternoon, you cannot board any eastbound trains there, given the fact that there is no eastbound main platform. Back to VRE-the brand new station at Spotsylvania is great for those people who live south of Downtown Fredericksburg and even a little further south since they don't have to worry about driving into Downtown Fredericksburg.