• “Transforming Rail in Virginia”

  • General discussion of passenger rail proposals and systems not otherwise covered in the specific forums in this category, including high speed rail.
General discussion of passenger rail proposals and systems not otherwise covered in the specific forums in this category, including high speed rail.

Moderators: mtuandrew, gprimr1

  by njtmnrrbuff
 
If it’s not worth repairing the right of way west of Christiansburg to permit fast passenger train speeds, then don’t. As the crew flies, it’s 113 miles from Bristol to Christiansburg and that’s still a long distance. At the very least, a bus running from Christiansburg to Bristol and back connecting to and from the trains would be an answer.

As for platforms at the stations in the Richmond area, it would make sense for both RVR and RVM to have high levels. I can only imagine how much ridership will go up at those two stations. I believe that ridership is very good at both RVR and RVM.
  by WhartonAndNorthern
 
electricron wrote: Mon Jul 26, 2021 9:04 pm
dgvrengineer wrote: Mon Jul 26, 2021 6:57 pm The biggest problem with the purchase of Roanoke to Christiansburg Virginian line is there is no connection south towards Bristol so basically Christiansburg will be the end of the line.
Why worry about going to Bristol when you are only buying the rail corridor as far west as Christiansburg?
Virginia wanted to buy access from Roanoke to Bristol via Christiansburg on the ex-N&W. NS said no but you can have the ex-VGN. The ex-VGN gets them closer to Blacksburg, but the City of Christiansburg had already bought up land on the old N&W for the station. Now they need to find a place for a new station and lost that potential to reach Bristol.
  by kitchin
 
BlueFlag wrote: Sun Jul 25, 2021 10:46 pm Less noticed, it seems, is that Virginia plans to use the newly-purchased rail between Charlottesville and Doswell as part of cross-state service dubbed the "Commonwealth Corridor".

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Thanks, but unfortunately the "Commonwealth Corridor," like the previous "Transdominion Express" for Southside, are no longer discussed by the state DRPT. The state purchase of tracks between Charlottsville and Doswell, while welcome, is only to "preserve the existing freight corridor between Doswell, VA, and Clifton Forge, VA for future east-west passenger service." https://transformingrailva.com/ Pax service is not in the 10-year plan. Also unfortunately, it's a terrible route. On the schedules I've seen from pre-Amtrak days, Charlottesville-Richmond took 1:50 and looking at the track it's hard to imagine it was ever faster. On the optimistic side, CSX/BB doesn't seem interested in this route a major freight corridor. The only other existing rail corridor from Charlottesville to Richmond would go along the James River, but that line is a busy CSX freight line, and the needed connecting rail is defunct. Then there's what everyone casually interested seems to say: build a super train down the median of I-64. I'm just wondering if the bus service could improve, public or private.

Greyhound just closed the indoor Charlottesville station, even though it's a connection point on their system. For a small city, decisions in the last two decades have resulted in *four* surface transportation hubs: Downtown Transit Center, very nice, local buses only; Greyhound; Amtrak (busy) with Ambus only for connecting to north-south routes in Richmond; and at Barracks Road Shopping Center, Megabus and the state supported Virginia Breeze bus service, a system of north-south routes only. All in a city of 10 square miles.

Further afield, the airport like many in Virginia does not even have bus service, and is always looking for ways to spend its dedicated passenger taxes.

A VRE-like commuter rail from Richmond to Staunton along the BB doesn't seem likely either, as only a few counties or cities along the route would go for the taxes. Charlottesville to Staunton might work, with more stops than Amtrak, and the politics for it would be slightly possible. But no one's talking about it, and there is moderate freight contention.

While Amtrak has surpassed expectations in popularity outside the urban crescent of Hampton Roads - Richmond - D.C., the real spending needs are in the expanded Northeast Corridor: the urban crescent and the high speed route to Raleigh. While Amtrak has done well in economically growing areas of Virginia outside the urban crescent, routes like Bristol are (or were) just political talk. How to support areas with steady or declining populations is a political issue common to many states. I wonder why Harrisonburg and the lower (northern) Shenandoah Valley, which is doing fine, is not discussed for rail, but it's become as a whole very conservative, somewhat contrary to its longer history.
  by west point
 
The connection at Charlottesville between BBr RR and NS would need a complete stripping and rebuild. The connecting tracks is thru a yard with excepted tracks are in terrible shape. Also no signaled connections to either RR just all hand throw switches. And yes the route is too convoluted and too slow !

EDIT: If those fully signaled connections were ever built that would be a faster way for Cardinal with it being able to connect to / from NS and proceed to WASH. But that will never happen !
  by kitchin
 
I guess you're talking about the switch to go Gordonsville - CVS - LYH. That would be the Commonwealth Corridor in the picture, whatever that means after Transforming Rail in Virginia in ten years. By that time, if ever, it might go Gordonsville - CVS - Staunton like the Cardinal. Anyway, like you say CVS trackwork seems like just one of the track problems.

CSX mainline from D.C. to Fredericksburg is not great either. It used to go east to a boat connection to D.C., 150 years ago, and somehow that still effects the lousy routing. Though it also avoids some of what I-95 does, riding the breaks of the geological Fall Line between coastal and piedmont topographies.

Anyway, DC to Richmond shows a lousy route can suffice with enough population, and bad enough driving alternatives, or people who avoid or can't afford driving.
  by KTHW
 
A couple of important updates coming out of the forthcoming May 23rd Transforming Rail in Virginia Board meeting.

1. A separate Amtrak high level platform is confirmed for Crystal City and will be connected to the southern end of the new VRE station.
2. Rail ridership for the State is essentially back to pre pandemic levels, with the final suspended train to NPN resuming in July 2022, and two additional round trips being added the same month. One to Norfolk and one to Roanoke, both essentially operating on a "counter commute" schedule.
3. The Blacksburg area station has been narrowed down to two areas near the Uptown Christiansburg Mall. The extension to Blacksburg will coincide with several improvements along the NS line between Manassas and new terminus.
4. VA intends to receive the new ICTs between 2026-2028 and highlights a lot of the known improvements.
5. VRE is adding a layover yard just south of ALX that will enable it to run more frequent service between the core stations once the new Long Bridge is in place, and to enable MARC trains to lay over as well. Personally I would love to see wires strung to enable Acela service to ALX (but that's years away).
6. Lots of small and large station projects are proceeding as planning and on schedule (albeit very slowly)

Link to all documents: https://vapassengerrailauthority.org/ab ... d-meetings
  by west point
 
KTHW wrote: Thu May 19, 2022 3:16 pm
5. VRE is adding a layover yard just south of ALX that will enable it to run more frequent service between the core stations once the new Long Bridge is in place, and to enable MARC trains to lay over as well. Personally I would love to see wires strung to enable Acela service to ALX (but that's years away).
Link to all documents: https://vapassengerrailauthority.org/ab ... d-meetings
IMO it may be more likely wires would be strung to ALX and storage yard if Penn line MARC trains are ever run to ALX. As well once enough Amtrak ALCEs are in service that might greatly reduce perceived diesel emissions although CSX would be still emitting.
  by Bob Roberts
 
KTHW wrote: Thu May 19, 2022 3:16 pm 5. VRE is adding a layover yard just south of ALX that will enable it to run more frequent service between the core stations once the new Long Bridge is in place, and to enable MARC trains to lay over as well. Personally I would love to see wires strung to enable Acela service to ALX (but that's years away).
Seems like the next capacity crunch for NoVa rail is going to be platform capacity on through-tracks at WUS (and aren’t those low platforms?). They are intensively utilized during the day already (although much of that is the need for engine changes). I hope the Long Bridge project is addressing this.
Last edited by Bob Roberts on Fri May 20, 2022 6:47 am, edited 2 times in total.
  by west point
 
Bob Roberts wrote: Thu May 19, 2022 6:18 pm Seems like the next capacity crunch for NoVa rail is going to be platform capacity on through-tracks as WUS (and aren’t those low platforms?). I hope the Long Bridge project is addressing this.
I may be wrong but that is part of Amtrak's eminent domain procedures. Amtrak cannot do anything to either the 1st street tunnel bore or the platforms??? The present Leese holder has stymied Amtrak with every proposal Amtrak has ever made. Amtrak also wants more ticket space and more space around train gates.

https://www.msn.com/en-us/news/us/amtra ... 3494bc760a

Although directly related I can imagine the platforms cannot be changed until stairs and escalators can be installed from the area above is refurbished which Amtrak does not appear to control??
  by STrRedWolf
 
They are low platforms, because I think the Superliners go through there, and VRE trains can't open high.

That said, lets speculate a bit here and bring in more context with other plans being worked on. Lets assume Amtrak gets the whole mess straightened out and gets caternary run through the First Street tunnel and down to ALX and the new yard. We can also assume the second Long Bridge project is done. This gets MARC Penn Line service down to ALX... and also allows a ton of Amtrak trains to swap engines at ALX and not WAS.

Although... by the time this is done, we'll have new Siemens Venture sets with dual-mode sets, so these engine swaps would become minimal if not removed... and any effort on the First Street tunnels has to be weighed with less diesel usage on the Amtrak sets plus the MARC Penn line service. MARC Camden Line could be extended though, since that is all diesel.

Lots to weigh there.
  by scratchyX1
 
VRE has fairly new Gallery IV's which are center door low platform. I'm going to assume that semi high platforms , or rebuilding them so they have traps for high level platforms isn't really an option.
Something that does occur to me is that MARC just bought chargers. Anyone know what modifications would need to be made to allow them to use a (in all but name) tender with a pantograph like Amtrak ordered with the ICTs?
It seems that MARC has the better gear for run through , but Virginia has the vision and will to implement it.
Amtrak isn't a regional rail operator, but someone needs to coordinate the two agencies.
WMATA is in no way the organization to do it.
Per the conversation 2 years ago, about the lower level low platforms.
https://railroad.net/why-does-washingto ... 71454.html
  by west point
 
This is speculation but IMO the following would be how best to meet the future needs.

1. Start the construction of the second Long Bridge and 4 tracking to ALX. Almost all work should be shovel ready. That bridge because of all of its rail traffic (freight and passenger) is probably more of an immediate impediment than either B&P or NY Hudson tunnels at present.
2. Once the new ALCs with venture cars are in service on the NEC then they can become the start of regional services using them for RVR (RVM), then NPN, Norfolk, & Roanoke. Add short length of CAT at these terminals so trains could layover with diesels off.
3. The upgrade of the 1st street tunnel is complete with additional clearances for CAT wire to ALX.
4. Keep the AMs on WASH <> BOS services.
5. Continue the LD trains changing engines at WASH as doing that at ALX means new maintenance facilities. Fitting in the Palmetto, Carolinian, and possibly a daytime Cresent not sure.
Between #1&2 hopefully the Hudson tunnel work will be at least halfway complete, B&P well on to completion and Susquehanna bridge work underway.
  by KTHW
 
Long Bridge is probably one of the most important infrastructure projects given the amount of passenger and freight rail that traverses it, and the long route around it, should it ever go down for extended maintenance.

Once the project is done, VRE can operate like another Metro line between ALX and WAS by running all day 15 min frequencies, given that VA will own all passenger rail infrastructure between the two points, and is planning a yard just south of ALX to short turn trains.
  by STrRedWolf
 
west point wrote: Fri May 20, 2022 8:35 pm 1. Start the construction of the second Long Bridge and 4 tracking to ALX. Almost all work should be shovel ready. That bridge because of all of its rail traffic (freight and passenger) is probably more of an immediate impediment than either B&P or NY Hudson tunnels at present.
While I'll agree with you on the need for the bridge and it's impacts... the second Long Bridge can be done in parallel with B&P/Fredrick Douglas and the new Hudson river tunnels. CSX can be building that while other teams tunnel out the others. I will contend the Hudson river tunnels will be more impactful should they fail over the B&P. The B&P is easy to dig out and make it into a trench (which has happened twice) -- something I bet would take a week tops. The Hudson? I can't estimate the time because of even one of those breaches, that's... It'll be Superstorm Sandy again.
2. Once the new ALCs with venture cars are in service on the NEC then they can become the start of regional services using them for RVR (RVM), then NPN, Norfolk, & Roanoke. Add short length of CAT at these terminals so trains could layover with diesels off.
3. The upgrade of the 1st street tunnel is complete with additional clearances for CAT wire to ALX.
This is a bit questionable. With the Venture sets, double-headed and dual-mode... that would eliminate a lot of engine swapping, and may remove a ton of this need. This was discussed in the Amtrak ICT thread.
4. Keep the AMs on WASH <> BOS services.
5. Continue the LD trains changing engines at WASH as doing that at ALX means new maintenance facilities. Fitting in the Palmetto, Carolinian, and possibly a daytime Cresent not sure.
Palmetto and Carolinian are day-time trains and are slated to switch to the ICT, so that cuts out those swaps. Ditto for the Regional. That means only the LD overnighters are swapping. The Crescent is NYC to New Orleans and takes 29+ hours. That's swapping. Silver Star/Meteor is swapping. The Cardinal is swapping. That's 8 swaps per day versus what, one every 30 minutes?
Between #1&2 hopefully the Hudson tunnel work will be at least halfway complete, B&P well on to completion and Susquehanna bridge work underway.