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VRE makes future plans

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WOODBRIDGE - Virginia Railway Express ridership has grown to the point where seats can be hard to find.

The commuter rail service expects demand to grow and is looking for ways to keep up.

That’s where the VRE system plan comes into play.

The Operations Board and its staff started work on the plan last year. On Friday, the board approved the plan, which looks forward to the year 2040 and includes adding new trains.

VRE officials expect that the commuter rail ridership could double by 2040, according to the plan.

Currently, VRE handles an average of more than 19,000 rider trips on weekdays.

The plan estimates that the population in the Washington region to grow by some 2 million by 2040. The forecast also expects there to be 1.6 million new jobs created during the same time frame.

And VRE sees itself as a major player in getting those commuters to and from work.

The first of the three-phase plan runs through 2020 and focuses on “relatively low-cost projects,” according to a plan summary.

The initial phase calls for lengthening peak train service, adding round trips on the Fredericksburg and Manassas lines and adding more parking spaces.

Such improvements would allow VRE to handle 6,000 additional rider trips a day.

The second and third phases would involve more expensive improvements, which would allow VRE to expand service and spread into new markets.

The plan calls for increased peak commuter service as well as reverse service. The plan also includes potential midday, evening and weekend service.

The long-term phases also could include coordination with the MARC service in Maryland, the addition of intercity train service and high-speed trains.

VRE’s plan pointed out two major projects: the expansion of the two-track Long Bridge across the Potomac River to four tracks between Alexandria and Washington, D.C.; and adding a third track between Alexandria and Spotsylvania.

All told, the projects would cost more than $2 billion.

Scott Shenk: 540/374-5436

sshenk@freelancestar.com

 

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