VRE commuters relieved by news of rail deal

Commuters getting ready to board Virginia Railway Express trains Thursday morning were relieved to hear they won’t have to find a different way to work Friday morning.

Many heard on WTOP as they drove to the train station that a tentative railway labor agreement has been reached, averting a nationwide rail strike that would have stopped VRE trains in their tracks.

”That sounds like  great news,” said one commuter, as he and a fellow rider watched a morning train heading toward Union Station pull into the station. “That’s something we were all on edge about.”

Another commuter, who doesn’t drive a car, said she has “just been kind of worried about how I would get down to D.C., so I’ve been coming up with an alternative plan.”

”I got up this morning and I thought, ‘OK, is the train gonna come, should we take the bus?’” she said.

One commuter said stopping commuter trains would have severe ramifications: “If you rely on it every single day, it’s critical infrastructure.”

passengers get on VRE train
Commuters board a Virginia Railway Express train in Manassas on Sept. 15, 2022. (WTOP/Neal Augentstin)

VRE riders have been enjoying riding for free in September, as the rail service suspended fares during Metro’s closure of Blue and Yellow Line stations south of Reagan National Airport.

Many of the commuters said if the strike happened, they would get back in their cars.

”I think driving down 66, which is a bit of a nightmare with all the construction was my Plan B, and then taking the Metro,” said one man.

Another rider said he would have to find an alternative way to get to work, but a freight strike would have more severe consequences.

”To move all the hazardous materials — the chlorine for drinking water, the ethanol to put in our gasoline. All those things are very important, and it could have been an impending disaster if supply chains were crippled by the strike,” he said, as he boarded the train to get to work.


Neal Augenstein

Neal Augenstein has been a reporter at WTOP since 1997. Through the years, Neal has covered many of the crimes and trials that have gripped the region. Neal's been pleased to receive awards over the years for hard news, feature reporting, use of sound and sports.

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