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    Document Summary
    - Report Published -

    House Document No. 57

    Document Title
    Richmond Rail Study

    Department of Rail and Public Transportation

    Enabling Authority
    Appropriation Act - Item 556 D. (Regular Session, 1993)

    Executive Summary

    Item 556 D of Chapter 994, 1993 Virginia Acts of Assembly states that:

    "The Secretary of Transportation in conjunction with the Department of Rail and Public Transportation and the Department of Transportation shall perform a study of the rail freight and passenger demands of the corridor between Washington, D. C. and the Richmond area. The study shall include an assessment of the existing conditions, capacities, and improvements needed. The study will also include a preliminary engineering feasibility analysis of the corridor between Richmond and the Tidewater area. The study shall be completed by January, 1995."

    The Virginia Department of Rail and Public Transportation (DRPT) hired a consulting firm lead by URS Consultants, Inc. to perform this study. The purpose of this study was to:

    1. Assess current conditions.

    2. Forecast travel demand.

    3. Develop a system of improvements.

    4. Summarize six previous efforts:

    a. A Preliminary Engineering assessment of the Washington to Richmond rail corridor.
    b. A Preliminary Engineering assessment of the Richmond to Hampton Roads corridor.
    c. Simulation of corridor rail operations utilizing a computer model.
    d. Planning for the Richmond Multimodal Center at Main Street Station.
    e. An analysis of land use development strategies.
    f. A preliminary investigation of environmental considerations.


    Future Demand: Population within the corridor study area is projected to grow from about 2.8 million in 1990 to more than 3.5 million in 2014. Employment in the corridor is expected to grow by 45% from 1.9 million in 1990 to 2.7 million in 2014. Based on this growth, rail ridership in the corridor could be expected to grow by more than 50% over the next 20 years without any changes to the level of service. However, with the proposed improvements reducing travel time by 30 minutes and increasing frequency of service to one train per hour, ridership is projected to grow from the current 708,000 to 2.2 million, an increase of more than 300%.

    Projected Revenues and Expenses: Growth of passenger revenue would match the rate of growth of riders. Revenues are projected to exceed operating expenses over a 20 period in all of the service scenarios tested.

    Needed Improvements: In order to increase the speed of trains traveling between Richmond and Washington, D.C., improvements need to be made to the rail infrastructure. Curves need to be straightened, additional signals need to be installed and crossing protection gates need to be upgraded in some locations. In order to add more trains to increase the frequency of service, an additional track will need to be constructed along the corridor to provide increased capacity. It will also be necessary to procure additional trains in order to provide the proposed frequency of service.

    Phased Improvement Program: AnĚ incremental approach towards constructing the recommended improvements is being recommended. A six phased program of improvements has been identified:

    Stage 1: Maximum speed in corridor will be raised from current 70 mph to 80 mph. Approximately 6% minutes of travel time will be saved.

    Stage 2: Curves will be straightened and improvements in the Potomac Yard area in Northern Virginia will be completed. An additional 10 minutes in travel time will be saved.

    Stage 3: The signal system will be upgraded and improvements will be made to eliminate speed restrictions in three locations. Maximum speed will be increased to 90 mph. An additional 6 minutes in travel time will be saved, and additional capacity will be provided.

    Stage 4: Additional track will be built between Alexandria and Fredericksburg, including the construction of a new bridge across Quantico Creek. This will provide substantial additional capacity to allow for the operation of additional passenger trains.

    Stage 5: High speed trainsets will be purchased to operate the expanded service. High speed crossovers will be installed at ten locations to allow trains to maintain higher speeds when switching from one track to another. Track improvements will be made in Richmond to allow corridor trains to serve Main Street Station and a new layover facility at the Richmond International Airport.

    Stage 6: An additional track will be installed between Fredericksburg and Richmond, and the maximum speed limit will be increased to 110 mph. An additional 10 minutes in travel time will be saved.

    Cost Projections: The total cost of all of the recommended improvements is in excess of $330 million. An incremental approach to constructing these projects will allow the phasing in of improvements over several years. The first three phases involve projects with a relatively low cost that will significantly improve the travel time of existing trains in the corridor. Stages four through six involve higher cost projects that will be necessary to further reduce travel times and to increase the capacity of the corridor in order to accommodate more frequent passenger service.


    Frequent, fast, comfortable rail service in the Washington, D.C. to Richmond corridor could draw a substantial number of riders. The availability of an attractive alternative mode of transportation could help alleviate some of the severe congestion problems that exist now on the Interstate 95 corridor. A phased improvement program is being recommended to allow the Commonwealth to make gradual but significant improvement to rail passenger service in the Washington, D.C. to Richmond corridor.