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New VRE cars to be in use soon

WOODBRIDGE—Virginia Railway Express commuters can expect to be riding in a few new cars soon.

In 2012, the commuter rail provider ordered eight new, 132-seat gallery-style cars for $21.2 million, and four of them should be in service in about a week. The other four passenger cars should arrive in a few weeks.

The Operations Board agreed at its Friday meeting to sell six of the old legacy cars to Metra in Chicago for a total of $3,000

If VRE hadn’t sold the cars, it would have been forced to dismantle them, which could have cost about $50,000, CEO Doug Allen told the board.

The commuter rail provider also has an additional seven rail cars on order at a cost of $16 million.

VRE will keep some of the current rail cars and use them temporarily for the additional Fredericksburg line train, which is expected to be running in October.

Also during the meeting, VRE Board Chairman Paul Milde said the Commonwealth Transportation Board this week approved millions for rail in the state’s Six-Year Improvement Plan.

Federal and state funding was approved by the CTB for track access fees, totaling $13.1 million in fiscal year 2015, Milde said.

VRE officials had been worried that the fees to use the freight railroad-owned tracks wouldn’t be fully funded.

The CTB also approved $2.1 million so VRE can buy five more rail cars.

The six-year plan also includes money to help pay for platform expansions at the Brooke and Leeland stations in Stafford County.

The funding is tied to an agreement to build a VRE station in the new Potomac Shores development in Prince William County.

The platform costs will be paid for by a combination of the developer of Potomac Shores on the Cherry Hill peninsula and state and federal funds.

“This is a big deal,” said Milde, who is also a Stafford County supervisor.

The expansion means the Stafford stations will have platforms on both sides of the tracks.

Milde said the platforms are expected to be completed in 2020.

Scott Shenk: 540/374-5436