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Future looks dim for proposed VRE extension

Here's a look at the proposed changes for VRE. A team studying the extension to the Gainesville-Haymarket area says the costs outweigh the benefits. (Courtesy Virginia Railway Express)

WASHINGTON — The future looks dim for a proposal to extend Virginia Railway Express to the Gainesville-Haymarket area of Prince William County, a long-standing plan that was considered a way to give Interstate 66 commuters more options.

A team that has been studying the idea since July 2015 now says the costs would outweigh the benefits. It recommends the VRE Operations Board go a different route and endorse an alternative.

Analysts say they prefer a plan that would relocate the Broad Run Station and “operate Manassas Line service out of a larger Broad Run Station about one mile east of the existing station, expanding the capacity of the existing Broad Run Maintenance and Storage Facility.”

Doing that would allow the number of daily trains on the line to increase from 16 to 22, according to the recommendation.

“In 2040, this alternative would yield about 5,100 more daily passenger trips,” it says.

While extending the line would likely generate even more passenger trips than that, analysts say it would happen “at considerably more capital and operating expense.” They also determined that an extension “would not be competitive for federal funding, a critical funding source for a capital investment of this size.”

The board will vote on the matter Friday.