RICHMOND, Va. – The Virginia Passenger Rail Authority (VPRA) announced it was awarded a grant totaling $729 million from the FRA via the Federal-State Partnership for Intercity Passenger Rail Program (FSP-National).
The Virginia Passenger Rail Authority (VPRA) announced it was awarded a grant totaling $729 million from the FRA via the Federal-State Partnership for Intercity Passenger Rail Program (FSP-National). This will allow the VPRA to complete the final design and construction of the Long Bridge and Phase 2 projects of the Transforming Rail in Virginia (TRV) initiative.
On December 6th, it was reported that the VPRA selected Skanska/Flatiron Joint Venture for the Long Bridge-North Package and Flatiron/Herzog Joint Venture for the Franconia-Springfield Bypass.
VPRA reported that the TRV initiative’s success comes from: 1) legislation passed in 2020 by the Virginia General Assembly that helped to create and fund the initiative; 2) a series of agreements the VPRA signed with CSX, Amtrak, and Virginia Railway Express (VRE) in 2021 surrounding real estate, funding, infrastructure, and passenger rail service; 3) and the support of the Commonwealth Transportation Board, the General Assembly, the Secretary of Transportation, and the Governor.
With the new FRA funding, the initiative will “separate passenger and freight rail operations in Northern Virginia from L’Enfant Plaza in Washington DC to Spotsylvania County just south of Fredericksburg.” By separating these operations, it will improve efficiency and on-time performance for both services. The grant will be used to complete five projects:
- Long Bridge: This includes the final design and construction of 1.8 miles between Arlington, VA and Washington, DC, including “five rail bridges, one pedestrian/bicycle bridge over the Potomac River and the replacement of a pedestrian bridge over Maine Avenue SW, as well as related railroad infrastructure.”
- L’Enfant Fourth Track and Station Improvements: This includes the final design and construction of a mile of additional mainline track around the L’Enfant VRE station as well as improvements to the existing station platform.
- Neabsco Creek to Woodbridge Third Track (Siding D): In Prince William County, VA, this includes the final design and construction of 3.1 miles of third track.
- Aquia Creek Third Track South (Siding E): In Stafford County, VA, this includes the final design and construction of 2.3 miles of third track.
- Crossroads Third Track (Siding F): In Spotsylvania County, VA, this includes the final design and construction of 4 miles of third track.
Completing Phase 2 projects in the TRV Initiative will allow for three new roundtrip Amtrak Virginia state-supported trains in 2030, according to VPRA. Currently, there are eight roundtrips with two scheduled for launch in 2026. By 2030, there will be a total of 13 daily round trips with nearly hourly service between Richmond and Washington, D.C. There will also be an increase in VRE service frequencies that includes weekend and late-night options. As well, it is “first step to enabling future pass-through MARC service between Maryland and Alexandria, Va.,” VPRA said.
The TRV initiative sets the stage for high-speed passenger train service between Richmond and Raleigh, N.C., known as the S-Line Project.
VPRA Executive Director DJ Stadtler said, “This grant is great news for Virginians … The full funding of our Transforming Rail in Virginia Phase II projects, in particular, Long Bridge will result in a transformative increase in rail travel in the Commonwealth and along the East Coast. VPRA is grateful for the immense support we have received from our Virginia senators and Congressional delegation for this initiative. Their support has been immeasurable.”
“These rail projects will improve fluidity for freight and passengers not only in Virginia, but up and down the eastern seaboard. They will be a game-changer for our growing economy, world-class port, and top regional destinations,” said Secretary of Transportation, Shep Miller. “I’d like to thank the VPRA team—especially Board Chair Jen DeBruhl and Executive Director DJ Stadtler—and our federal partners for helping us jumpstart these key projects.”
“This investment in an important rail corridor is fundamental to the Commonwealth’s economic future and will significantly improve commuter and passenger rail service as well as freight flow,” said Jennifer DeBruhl, Chair of the VPRA Board and Director of the Virginia Department of Rail and Public Transportation, who will retire in June 2024.
In a related development, engineering, planning and consulting services firm Michael Baker International reported in November 2022 that it had been selected by CSX to lead program and construction management for rail enhancement projects as part of the TRV initiative.
The VPRA reports a 20% increase in passenger ridership from October 2022 to October 2023 with 125,689 passengers, marking the “highest ridership ever in October since Amtrak Virginia service began in 2009.” As of reporting, Amtrak Virginia offers three daily roundtrips between Norfolk (in Hampton Roads) to Washington, DC, two daily roundtrips between Roanoke and Washington and Newport News and Washington, and one daily roundtrip between Richmond and Washington.