In a few years, there could be more options for train travel up and down the East Coast. When it comes to this area, the connection between D.C. and Richmond is on track, Virginia rail planners said.
“It’s possible we could be breaking ground in 18 months for some of these sections,” said Emily Stock with the Virginia Department of Rail and Public Transportation.
The project looks to build an additional one or two rails along different sections of the corridor to connect D.C. to Richmond.
“For most of the length of the system, it’s two tracks. And in Northern Virginia, there are areas of three tracks, so we’d be looking at adding an additional track along the system for the most part,” Stock said. “It would allow us to add potentially twice as many Amtrak trains along the corridor than we have now.”
The DC2RVA project is just one part of a 123-mile-long corridor update along the Eastern Seaboard. It aims to increase the frequency of trains and improve reliability.
“It would also allow us to add more Virginia Railway Express trains,” Stock said. “Right now, the corridor is at capacity, so unless more infrastructure is added, we won’t be able to have more trains.”
In 2014, DRPT was awarded a $44 million federal grant, which funded nearly 80% of the environmental impact statement study costs. The commonwealth also invested with a partner, CSX, to complete the beginning phases of the engineering and design of the CSX-owned rail corridor between Chesterfield County and the approach to the Long Bridge.
The DC2RVA project will spin off the D.C. Department of Transportation’s project to relieve congestion at the Long Bridge, which sits over the Potomac River and connects the city to Arlington County.
“There is a rail bottleneck in that area, and so these two projects really work together,” Stock said. “And we’re building and implementing these things in incremental phases, and hopefully we’ll have a nice four-track system that will allow for expansion of Amtrak and VRE services.”