Track and Other Norfolk Southern Concerns - TransDominion Express


Track and Other Norfolk Southern Concerns

To move forward, details and repercussions must be considered, many of which have to do with track conditions. And, we must keep in mind that the solution for rail transportation requires a combination of projects, passenger and freight.

With the Farmville track apparently destined for abandonment, the Demo Project will utilize the southern route around Farmville. However, among the advantages of starting with the Richmond leg instead of the DC leg is the constraint with Union Station in DC. It has yet to be worked out how the TDX would access the station and if there would even be track space available for it This challenge can be addressed later, as the TDX plans system completion, with addition of the Lynchburg to DC leg.

Additionally, we must consider VRE’s plan for more service west of Manassas, opening the possibility for an additional project for a VRE extension between Manassas and Charlottesville. The TDX will succeed as an element of a total rail network for Virginia and beyond.

Bill Schafer said that NS must plan for additional use on all the routes. The VRE plan will overlap the I-81 study, which also overlaps the TDX route. Individual improvements must not compete against each other, but work cumulatively.

Schafer added track improvements cannot assume unencumbered passage, clearing all other trains off track. That won’t happen. NS will be adding more freight trains along I-81. Furthermore, Amtrak owns the northeast corridor from Washington to New York City and NS is limited to running freight on those tracks from 10PM-6AM. All of these elements enter into any planning to mingle passenger and freight trains.

In the past year, NS’s business growth entered double digits with intermodal freight up by 22%. Amtrak is already suffering reliability with NS growth.

For the freights to participate, consideration for capacity must come first, then reliability of schedule, last train speed. Considering potential track congestion, initiating TDX service with only one or two trips on a trial basis will simplify discovering the proper windows of operation for the TDX.

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