Richmond Rails: Adapting a Historic Network for Tomorrow’s Needs

March 1, 2016

“Since the mid-1800s central stations across America have existed to bring passenger trains from independent railway companies to one location, where travelers could make convenient transfers from one line to another. The lack of a central station in Richmond, Virginia is emblematic of the difficulties that have plagued Richmond’s rail operations for over a century. Richmond’s complicated rail network is a byproduct of the historic railroads that were built there and the city’s challenging topography.” 

Emily Stock, Manager of Rail Planning for DRPT and DC2RVA Project Manager, recognized early on that the DC2RVA project represented a unique opportunity to capture a visual record of Richmond’s rich rail history and to communicate the complex issues that must be resolved in determining which Richmond area stations best serve the planned high speed rail service. To tell this story, DRPT created a 14-minute documentary featuring retired Amtrak engineer Doug Riddell, former Richmond, Fredericksburg and Potomac Railroad president Dick Beadles, Richmond Mayor Dwight C. Jones, and several project representatives.

The purpose of the documentary is to educate audiences about:

  • The project’s  purpose, need, and benefits
  • The history of the current and past rail system(s) in the Richmond area
  • The chronological events that formed  the Virginia rail system and the resulting issues the DC2RVA project must solve
  • How station locations are determined

The production team scouted several locations for video shoots. Interviews were filmed on location at the original Broad Street Station (which today houses the Science Museum of Virginia) and Main Street Station. Motion graphics were developed to help illustrate how the railroads were built over time and the passenger and freight train conflicts that exist today. We are thankful to the Virginia Historical Society, the U.S. National Archives, VCU Libraries Commons, the Science Museum of Richmond, and the United States Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division for the historical imagery used in the film.  

We hope you will take a little time to sit back and enjoy the show!