DRPT’s Rail Division supports both passenger and freight rail in Virginia through funding and advocacy for rail improvements, industrial access and preservation projects.

In 2005, the first source of dedicated funding for freight and passenger rail improvements in Virginia history was established through the Rail Enhancement Fund. This Fund is complementary to DRPT’s other rail funds: Rail Industrial Access and Rail Preservation.

The Rail Division has five areas of activity: Passenger Rail, Freight Rail, Planning and Special Projects, and State Rail Safety Oversight.

Passenger Rail involves coordinating with Amtrak, Virginia Railway Express (VRE), other states, local Metropolitan Planning Organizations, and agencies on passenger rail operations, planning and development.

Freight Rail involves coordinating with CSX, Norfolk Southern and other freight rail operators on freight rail operations, planning and development.

In addition to the Rail Enhancement Fund program mentioned above, two other grant programs are associated with freight rail: Rail Preservation and Rail Industrial Access. Rail Preservation provides for the preservation and development of Virginia’s shortline railroads, while Industrial Access fosters rail development and access to freight rail service for new or expanding business and industries.

Rail Planning involves providing input on state and federal rail policy and regulations, track abandonment, freight and passenger rail feasibility analysis, identification of freight rail needs and updates to state rail studies, maps and plans. This activity also includes the DRPT liaison for the Operation Lifesaver Program.

Special Projects is responsible for demand analysis for passenger rail studies, rail capacity analysis and coordinating with local and regional transportation authorities on rail modeling issues and intermodal studies.

State Rail Safety Oversight involves overseeing safety and security programs for rail fixed guideway transit systems operating in Virginia. Under Virginia statute and 49 Code of Federal Regulations, Part 659, DRPT is the designated State Safety Oversight agency for the Commonwealth. DRPT personnel oversee and review system safety and security programs at rail transit agencies in Hampton Roads and Northern Virginia/Washington, DC regions. In the Hampton Roads, DRPT personnel are overseeing the development of the safety and security program for Hampton Roads Transit’s The Tide light rail transit system. In the Northern Virginia/Washington area, DRPT personnel serve on the Tri-state Oversight Committee, or TOC, which oversees rail safety at WMATA.

For questions or additional information on these programs, please contact our rail staff.

See Rail Funding for more information on Rail Grants.




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