Amtrak NEC Virginia Regional Service

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Jeff Smith
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Re: Expanded Virginia Regional Service

Post by Jeff Smith » Tue May 15, 2018 9:37 am

Work on improving Amtrak service and increasing trains: [urlhttps://wtop.com/dc-transit/2018/05/amtrak-boost-in-va-no-extra-track-through-ashland-part-of-final-dc2rva-recomendations/]WTOP.com[/url]
More Amtrak and VRE service recommended in Va.

WASHINGTON — A plan to significantly increase the number of Amtrak trains between Washington and Richmond, add to Virginia Railway Express commuter rail service, and allow for more freight traffic along the Interstate 95 corridor is moving forward with new recommendations solidified this week from the Virginia Department of Rail and Public Transportation.

The recommendations being presented Tuesday to a Commonwealth Transportation Board subcommittee include pieces approved in December and additional comments asking the Federal Railroad Administration to support building an additional track from Arlington to Ashland in the hopes of providing a better, more frequent and more reliable alternative to sitting in Interstate 95 traffic.

Two new tracks would be built between Arlington and the District after separate plans for an expanded Long Bridge are completed in coming years.
...
After significant public pressure, the Department of Rail and Public Transportation now recommends no new construction in Ashland, where trains would merge from three tracks to the current two for about two miles through the town.
...
In Northern Virginia, design is 30 percent complete on a $220 million third track between Franconia and Occoquan.

The early design for Virginia’s $225 million fourth track that will connect to the new Long Bridge is due to be complete by the end of the year.

In the Richmond area, new bypass tracks around a CSX freight yard are due to open in January. Newly expanded parking at the busiest station in the state, Staples Mill, is due to open this summer.
...
DC2RVA project map, courtesy Virginia Department of Rail and Public Transportation.
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frequentflyer
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Re: Expanded Virginia Regional Service

Post by frequentflyer » Tue May 15, 2018 1:18 pm

How this mostly single track line handles so much traffic is beyond me and a testament to the dispatchers who oversee it.

CHTT1
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Re: Expanded Virginia Regional Service

Post by CHTT1 » Tue May 15, 2018 4:30 pm

What part of DC-Richmond is single track? Just about all of the recommendations are adding a third track.

bretton88
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Re: Expanded Virginia Regional Service

Post by bretton88 » Tue May 15, 2018 7:11 pm

At this point you might as well consider getting a dedicated ROW. The costs won't be much more than dealing with CSX on this.

palmland
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Re: Expanded Virginia Regional Service

Post by palmland » Tue May 15, 2018 8:08 pm

Thanks for posting this. Great news for those of us who like Ashland as it is. A 3rd track would have effectively ruined downtown and split the college campus. Disclaimer: i’m An RMC alumni.

Outside of VRE territory I wasn’t convinced of the need for a 3rd track. Amtrak and CSX volume doesn’t approach what BNSF handles on the Transcon (yes I know there is the issue of different train speeds) and even with a third track trains would have had to slow through town.

bdawe
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Re: Expanded Virginia Regional Service

Post by bdawe » Tue May 15, 2018 10:09 pm

it's also about speed though. The Transcon handles all freight trains except for 1 passenger train per day that they thread through that isn't trying to get anywhere especially fast. It's capacity needs are different than a line with much more passenger traffic.
B. Dawe's map of routes and urban populations https://brendandawe.carto.com/viz/80b9d ... /embed_map" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false; NOW updated with 2016 Canadian Populations

frequentflyer
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Re: Expanded Virginia Regional Service

Post by frequentflyer » Tue May 15, 2018 10:43 pm

CHTT1 wrote:What part of DC-Richmond is single track? Just about all of the recommendations are adding a third track.
Thanks for the correction.

Jeff Smith
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Re: Expanded Virginia Regional Service

Post by Jeff Smith » Wed May 16, 2018 8:06 am

bretton88 wrote:At this point you might as well consider getting a dedicated ROW. The costs won't be much more than dealing with CSX on this.
I agree, but the cost will be very high. Not sure if that's part of the SEHSR plan.
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Matt Johnson
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Re: Expanded Virginia Regional Service

Post by Matt Johnson » Wed May 16, 2018 12:23 pm

CHTT1 wrote:What part of DC-Richmond is single track? Just about all of the recommendations are adding a third track.
Correct. I don't think there are any single track sections on that stretch, but having used Amtrak quite a bit during my time in Williamsburg, the Richmond - Newport News leg is largely single track with passing sidings. But it also happens to be the faster stretch, with a 79 mph speed limit, while DC - Richmond is 70 max.

frequentflyer
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Re: Expanded Virginia Regional Service

Post by frequentflyer » Wed May 16, 2018 2:09 pm

^^^^^ Why only 70 mph ?^^^^^

electricron
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Re: Expanded Virginia Regional Service

Post by electricron » Wed May 16, 2018 2:30 pm

frequentflyer wrote:^^^^^ Why only 70 mph ?^^^^^
Did you look at the map?
There’s many curves and grade changes along the route caused by natural barriers. The same natural barriers that allowed Robert E. Lee and his Army of Northern Virginia to hold back the twice as large Army of the Potomac under many generals over four years.
The natural geography is set up more for trains running east to west than north to south. Which may be why railroad mainlines like the Norfolk and Western and the Chesapeake and Ohio ran mostly east to west.

KTHW
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Re: Expanded Virginia Regional Service

Post by KTHW » Wed May 16, 2018 5:18 pm

frequentflyer wrote:^^^^^ Why only 70 mph ?^^^^^
Also I believe that the RF&P/CSX downgraded the track before Amtrak started running trains on it to save on maitinence costs.

matthewsaggie
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Re: Expanded Virginia Regional Service

Post by matthewsaggie » Wed May 16, 2018 9:29 pm

Long term they will regret not choosing a bypass route around Ashland, at least for freights. While NEPA really wont allow it, it would be good if VDOT could acquire a R/W around Ashland for the future before it all gets built over.

dgvrengineer
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Re: Expanded Virginia Regional Service

Post by dgvrengineer » Thu May 17, 2018 7:12 pm

I agree with acquiring the bypass right of way. When Virginia DRPT doubles passenger service and if and when CSX gets it act together the people in Ashland will be screaming about all the trains that block the crossings too much.

mtuandrew
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Re: Expanded Virginia Regional Service

Post by mtuandrew » Fri May 18, 2018 12:25 am

There’s a power company ROW that parallels I-95 from roundly King’s Dominion theme park to the I-295 crossing of the RF&P, crossing I-95 just west of Ashland. It looks like a likely freight bypass should such become necessary, since it has only one owner (whether in title or in easement only.)

I’d place more money on a railroad trench through Ashland though.

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