TDX Discusses Next Steps: Organizational Models/Funding - TransDominion Express


TDX Discusses Next Steps: Organizational Models/Funding

The TDX Steering Committee held meetings April and June, with Bruce Wingo of Norfolk Southern as a welcomed guest at the April meeting.

With so much progress amassing as a result of actions of the 2005 General Assembly, the group could barely cover its agenda at either meeting. But, the findings of the Woodside Study Report and the Report to the Governor – Governor’s Commission on Rail Enhancement for the 21st Century were of primary concern.


Flanked by key legislators, with a Norfolk Southern locomotive in the background, Governor Mark Warner signs the Rail Enhancement Bill at the Norfolk International Terminals on June 17. Directly behind him is David Goode, Norfolk Southern chairman.

Although several necessary action steps were indicated, the group chose first to concentrate on the following:

  • Evaluate options to recommend appropriate governance structure for management and operation of the TDX service.
  • Finalize a TDX financial plan identifying all short and long-term capital and operating funding requirements. The plan should identify funding sources and include a schedule for implementation.
  • Enter into discussions with economic development interests along the proposed service route. Also initiate discussions with regional planners, particularly in the Washington, DC to Lynchburg segment, on the relationship between rail service and land use.
  • Conduct a marketing study to define optimal times, fares, and strategies for promoting service use.

The group will consider working with the Transportation Research Council in Charlottesville, as well as the Virginia Tourism Corporation (VTC) and the Virginia Municipal League.

Alan Tobias, TDX project manager from VDRPT, attended the June meeting via teleconfercence. He shared the group’s sadness over the untimely death of Steve Eisenach, Director Public Partnerships Strategic Planning Dept for Norfolk Southern. Tobias credited him for serving a pivotal role in our progress. Tobias indicated that NS has no replacement for him waiting in the wings.

He then offered information regarding the Rail Enhancement Fund and the accompanying effort to outline the distribution of the $23M (approx) annual fund for freight and passenger rail.

The Rail Advisory Board will be responsible to review project applications. The Governor will make the Board appointments. However, at this writing, we had not seen an announcement of the board makeup.

Projects that can move forward quickly, at least initially, will be the primary candidates for the first year’s funding. The Board will be challenged to determine how to approach projects requiring multiple year funding, like the TDX. Most important, Tobias said, there are two laws of compliance for the funds:

  1. The 30% matching is targeted to get private money involved. It can’t come from the previously awarded $9M VTA money for the TDX, state or other federal funds. There may be some qualifying match from NS for specific portions pertaining to freight. Some “in kind” improvements can also be counted.
  2. Applicants must demonstrate a public benefit that exceeds the amount of money going into the project. Many things can be factored in. These funds cannot be used for ridership subsidies or administrative expenses.

With so much work ahead of us, and the need for timely implementation for marketing and administrative efforts, the need for a full time executive director was discussed. But, it was determined that considerably more funds be would required to support the associated expenses. As a result, the Committee is exploring ways to find the money.

The group agreed upon three positive steps to ascend immediately:

  • Obtain the five VRE cars,
  • Become a legal entity, first through articles of incorporation, and later through formation of an authority.
  • Do what is necessary to fund a fulltime director and expenses.

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