"Connecting Richmond and D.C."

December 14, 2015

Source: Mallory Noe-Payne | NPR

The state isn’t planning on building a new rail line, but making improvements so that the existing line goes faster. Emily Stock is the manager of rail planning for the Virginia Department of Rail and Public Transportation. She says travel time between the state capitol and the nation’s capitol is almost three hours, and the goal is to halve that.

“Operationally if we were to flatten all the curves that we have in the corridor now, and get up to 90 miles per hour, which is our maximum authorized speed, we still would only shave off about 20 minutes from the overall travel time,” says Stock.

Stock says the real time saver will come from making the rail lines run more reliably and on schedule. Part of the difficulty is that the lines are privately owned by freight company CSX -- which has priority in usage.

“So even in our designs we have to have our alternatives approved and reviewed by the host railroad,” says Stock.

Stock says that a completely new fast track would require capital from the government and the use of more private land -- and she doesn’t see a huge appetite for either in the state.