Virginia Railway Express: Wikis


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Virginia Railway Express
Virginia Railway Express.svg
Locale Northern Virginia
Number of lines 2
Number of stations 18
Daily ridership 16,000
Began operation 1992
Operator(s) Transportation Partnership of PRTC and NVTC
System length 90 mi (145 km)
Track gauge standard gauge
Route map
Unknown route-map component "vKBFa"
Union Station (Washington, DC)
Unknown route-map component "vHST"
Unknown route-map component "vHST"
Crystal City
Unknown route-map component "vBHF"
Alexandria Union Station
Unknown route-map component "STRer" Unknown route-map component "STRel"
End station Straight track
Broad Run/Airport
End station

The Virginia Railway Express (VRE) is a commuter rail service that connects the Northern Virginia suburbs to Union Station in Washington, D.C., via two lines: the Fredericksburg Line from Fredericksburg, Virginia, and the Manassas Line from Broad Run/Airport station in Bristow, Virginia.

Service to Manassas began on June 22, 1992; to Fredericksburg on July 20, 1992.



Planning began in earnest for VRE in 1984 following a regional feasibility study by R.L. Banks and Associates, Inc., for the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments. Discussions about the potential of commuter rail service in Northern Virginia had occurred as early as 1964 at the Northern Virginia Transportation Commission. Earlier efforts faltered due to opposition from the freight railroads whose tracks offered ready access to core employment areas.

Blue and silver train engine with red and white accent lines moves closer leading a series of similarly colored passenger cars with shrubs and a sound wall in the background.
VRE train outside of Fredericksburg

By 1986, it became apparent that the jurisdictions outside of NVTC could not reach agreement on how to support VRE by joining NVTC so the Potomac and Rappahannock Transportation Commission was created for Prince William and Stafford counties and the city of Manassas. Legislation established a 2% motor fuels tax to support VRE expenses and other transportation investments.

By 1988, NVTC and PRTC established a VRE Operations Board, consisting of three voting members plus alternates from each of the two commissions, plus a voting representative of the Commonwealth of Virginia (currently a representative of the Director of the Virginia Department of Rail and Public Transportation).

In 1989, NVTC and PRTC executed a Master Agreement with the jurisdictions participating in the VRE project. The participating jurisdictions agreed to pay for VRE through a formula that weighted ridership by jurisdiction of residence with a factor of 90% and population with a factor of 10%. Arlington and Alexandria agreed to contribute to the project and have paid each year approximately what their formula share would be. The cities of Fredericksburg and Manassas Park joined PRTC in 1990 and signed the VRE Master Agreement and became VRE participating jurisdictions in 1992. [1]


Rail service operates Monday through Friday only and is often suspended or reduced on select holidays.

Through a cross-honoring agreement, VRE and the MARC Train allow passengers to transfer to a train on the other system provided that it is going in the opposite direction of the rush-hour commuters.

VRE operates on lines owned and maintained by Amtrak, Norfolk Southern and CSX Transportation. On November 5, 2009, VRE voted to award the operating contract to Keolis, a French based company, to take effect July 2010. As a result, all operations that were formerly conducted by Amtrak will transfer to the new service provider.

Ridership on VRE increased an average of 13% each year from 2000 to 2005, but, in the fiscal year to June 30, 2005, ridership fell 2% compared to the prior year. VRE said the decrease was because passengers affected by delays due to track maintenance and heat restrictions were taking other forms of transportation.[2] The trend reversed the summer of 2007, with ridership up nearly 2% in June and 4% in July compared with the corresponding months in 2006.[3] VRE currently carries 16,000 round-trip passengers per day.



Locomotive Fleet

Virginia Railway Express locomotive
Numbers Model
1-10 GP39
20-24 GP40
31-36 F40PH-2

Coach Fleet

Numbers Style Builder Years Built Seats
405, 408, 412-413, 415 Gallery I Trailer Car Pullman Company 1956 157
421-430 Gallery II Trailer Car Pullman Company 1956 157
431-440, 447, 449, 454-456 Gallery III Trailer Car Pullman Company 1960-68 157
710-722* Gallery IV Cab Car Sumitomo 2006-08 123
800-819*, 850-869 Gallery IV Trailer Car Sumitomo 2007-08 132*, 144

(* with restroom)

VRE Rail Lines

The Fredericksburg Line runs north-south along trackage owned by CSX Transportation, formerly the Richmond, Fredericksburg & Potomac Railroad. Amtrak service to Richmond, Virginia and points south also uses this line. The Manassas Line runs east-west along trackage owned by Norfolk Southern. Amtrak's Crescent to Atlanta and New Orleans also uses this line.

Fare Structure

VRE's fare structure is distance-based, with stations grouped into nine zones. There is no station in zone 7.

VRE Station Fare Zone VRE Line Miles
Fredericksburg (Transfer to Amtrak) 9 Fredericksburg Line 55
Leeland 8 Fredericksburg Line 51
Brooke 8 Fredericksburg Line 46
Quantico (Transfer to Amtrak) 6 Fredericksburg Line 35
Rippon 5 Fredericksburg Line 28
Woodbridge (Transfer to Amtrak) 5 Fredericksburg Line 24
Lorton 4 Fredericksburg Line 19
Franconia-Springfield (Transfer to Washington Metro Blue Line, Amtrak) 3 Fredericksburg Line 14
Broad Run 6 Manassas Line 35
Manassas (Transfer to Amtrak) 6 Manassas Line 32
Manassas Park 6 Manassas Line 29
Burke Centre 4 Manassas Line 21
Rolling Road 4 Manassas Line 19
Backlick Road 3 Manassas Line 13
Alexandria Union Station (Transfer to Washington Metro Blue and Yellow Lines at King Street, Amtrak) 2 * Fredericksburg and Manassas Lines 9
Crystal City (Transfer to Washington Metro Blue and Yellow Lines) 2 * Fredericksburg and Manassas Lines 5
L'Enfant Plaza (Transfer to Washington Metro Green, Orange, Blue and Yellow Lines) 1 * Fredericksburg and Manassas Lines 2
Union Station (Transfer to Washington Metro Red Line, MARC, Amtrak) 1 * Fredericksburg and Manassas Lines 0


VRE Derailment; January 5, 2006.

On January 5, 2006, at 6:45am, Fredericksburg line train #304 bound for Washington, D.C., derailed at Possum Point just north of the Quantico section of Prince William County. Four people including the assistant conductor suffered minor injuries and were treated and released by medical personnel.

The National Transportation Safety Board determined that the probable cause of the derailment was an excessively worn and chipped switch point, which caused the lead truck of the fourth passenger car to derail. Contributing to the accident was CSX’s delay in replacing a switch point that had been repeatedly identified as deteriorating. [4]

See also


  1. ^, Chronology of VRE
  2. ^ "Virginia Railway Express Sees Decline in Ridership", WTOP news, July 25, 2006
  3. ^ Dan Genz, "VRE ridership up; commuters likely to ask for later trains", Washington Examiner, August 15, 2007
  4. ^ "Railroad Accident Brief - Derailment of Virginia Railway Express train near Quantico, Virginia, January 5, 2006", National Transportation Safety Board report NTSB/RAB-06/06 (includes link to pdf document with full report), retrieved March 22, 2008

External links


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