Board of Supervisors Meeting Date: 

Chester W. Stribling,  Chairman, Lee District Supervisor

June 12, 2008

Staff Lead:


Paul S. McCulla, County Administrator

County Administration


A Resolution in Favor of Amtrak’s Proposed New Daily Passenger Rail Service in the US 29 Corridor and in Support of Related Infrastructure Improvements


Topic Description:


The Virginia Department of Rail and Public Transportation (VDRPT) is developing a State Rail Plan that will address the present and future needs for rail in the Commonwealth and provide a strategy to address them.  The State Rail Plan will address commuter, intercity, higher speed and high speed rail services as well as multimodal integration of rail with other modes of transportation. 

The VDRPT has asked for public input on the needs, priorities and rail improvements to be considered when developing the State Rail Plan.  The US29 – I-66 (Piedmont) rail corridor between Danville and Alexandria is home to 30% of the state’s population.  The cities, towns and counties of the US29 Corridor have experienced significant residential and commercial growth and with it, significant increases in highway traffic, congestion and travel time on through trips.  


The Route 29 passenger rail corridor is significantly under-served compared to the I-95 corridor, where the State has made massive investments for rail infrastructure and operations.   Fifty years ago, the Piedmont Corridor was served by 22 passenger trains a day operated by the Southern and C & O Railroads.  Today, the Piedmont Corridor is served by only one daily round trip train (Amtrak’s Crescent) between New Orleans and New York, and for stations north of Charlottesville, by an additional train (Amtrak’s Cardinal) three days a week.  These long-distance trains are frequently overbooked, with most seats reserved for long-distance ticket holders, the schedule is not conducive to business travel, and trains are frequently late, the existing level and quality of passenger rail service offered by these trains cannot meet the demands of business travelers, tourists, students or the traveling public.

Increased passenger rail service offers an additional method of transportation to the Washington D.C. metropolitan area providing an additional alternative to transportation by automobile helping to ease congested roads in Fauquier County and the Washington D.C. metropolitan area.  The rising cost of oil and the environmental concerns brought on by carbon based emissions have heightened the interest in energy efficient and environmentally friendly alternatives to the automobile.

Recognizing the Piedmont Corridor as an underserved market, Amtrak has recommended to VDRPT that steps be taken to implement new Lynchburg to Washington rail service “as soon as possible” – including any capital improvements needed to the existing rail line by the host railroad.  Amtrak reports that the addition of a second daily train can be accomplished easily and at a relatively low cost.

An application for State Rail Enhancement Funds (REF) for capital investments in the corridor in support of the proposed new Amtrak passenger service has been developed by Norfolk Southern Railroad and is included in the list of projects recommended by VDRPT for inclusion in the State’s 2009-2014 Six Year Improvement Program.  The requested resolution supports that application.  The resolution has been requested by the Piedmont Rail Coalition, a group of counties, cities and towns along the Route 29 Corridor who support enhanced rail service to the corridor.  Fauquier County, is by previous resolution of the Board of Supervisors, a member of that coalition.


Requested Action of the Board of Supervisors: 

Consider adoption of the attached resolution.

Financial Impacts Analysis:

There is no financial impact as a result of the adoption of this resolution.

Identify any other Departments, Organizations or Individuals that would be affected by this request:

Piedmont Rail Coalition

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