Improving Travel in VirginiaJanuary 11, 2017
Virginia residents and business owners know first-hand that travel delays on I-95 bring uncertainty, lost productivity, at a huge cost to families and businesses alike. This reality means that more must be done in the future to take cars and trucks off of I-95. That is why the Commonwealth has undertaken the Washington, D.C. to Richmond Southeast High Speed Rail (DC2RVA) project to study future rail capacity between D.C. and Richmond. By improving and expanding Amtrak, commuter, and freight rail service there will be more travel choices for commuters, businesses, and leisure travelers for decades to come. This project will identify necessary improvements to:
- Increase the number of Amtrak and VRE commuter trains serving the corridor;
- Improve the reliability and speed of all trains; and,
- Increase freight rail capacity as we face future growth, including goods from the Port of Virginia.
The DC2RVA rail corridor is a busy one - currently, there are 1.6 million passengers traveling through Virginia on Amtrak annually, 9,000 daily VRE users, and freight destined for points north and south. Demands will only increase in the future with the expansion of the Port of Virginia, completion of the Virginia Avenue Tunnel in D.C., and continued population and job growth throughout the southeast region.
DC2RVA will increase the benefits of Amtrak and VRE by creating additional capacity and allowing for up to nine more passenger rail round trips daily via Amtrak, and nearly doubling the number of daily passenger round trips overall. Additional tracks and improvements will increase the frequency and reliability of these trips through the region. These new trains will serve as an alternative to the congestion on I-95 and provide better travel choices.
DC2RVA, in conjunction with the recently announced Atlantic Gateway program, is a key part of the Commonwealth’s overall transportation improvement strategy to boost on-time performance, expand access to employment opportunities, and enhance the ability to move people and freight along the I-95 corridor, one of the most heavily congested areas in the United States. Several Northern Virginia rail improvement projects are being expedited through the Atlantic Gateway program to relieve recognized bottlenecks that exist in this region today.
The efficiency of this corridor is critical for the economic competitiveness of the Commonwealth and the quality of life of its citizens. Decisions about passenger rail improvements will come before the Commonwealth Transportation Board and the Federal Railroad Administration in the coming months. DRPT’s responsibility to the public is to be open and transparent as these decisions are made. Everyone is invited to learn more and attend public meetings to continue participating in the evaluation of improvement options.