VARP home page
Virginia Association of Railway Patrons
Modern Transportation for the Virginias
2013 Annual Meeting Highlights
VARP held its annual meeting on
NARP president Ross Capon welcomed everyone and, in his opening remarks, posed a question: People want trains, and the Presidents Budget looks good, but will it have a credible funding source?
Panel 1 discussion: the National Rail Plan
The panel comprised Dick Beadles, founder of Virginians for High Speed Rail; Chuck Riecks, West Virginia delegate to NARP and chairman of Friends of the Cardinal; Mike Testerman, president of VARP; and Thelma Drake, director of the Virginia Department of Rail and Public Transportation.
Testerman noted growth in freight and passenger requests under the Passenger Rail Investment and Improvement Act. To get federal dollars under the act, states must have 5- and
Drake explained that her department and the Virginia Department of Transportation are under the Commonwealth Transportation Board, not the Secretary of Transportation. Her department has fewer than
No state subsidy has been required so far for Amtrak Virginia operations, she said. The commonwealth has
Norfolk Amtrak service, she said, has boosted ridership on the Newport News trains, she said, because combined they offer more travel options to and from Norfolk. Funding for Roanoke service is included in a new transportation funding bill.
Riecks said that the West Virginia rail plan has been floundering for
Riecks noted the shrinking transportation sector in West Virginia. Coal is a declining commodity, he said. The easy-to-reach coal is gone. West Virginia is losing air service. Beckley and some other cities have one flight per day. The sequester of federal funds is shutting down all air traffic control in West Virginia except Charleston. West Virginia bus service is skeletal. Most West Virginia travel markets are interstate.
Panel 2 discussion: Washington Union Station and Northeast Corridor expansion plans.
The panel comprised Ruby Siegel, vice president of Aecom, consultants to Amtrak on the Northeast Corridor; Doug Allen, chief executive officer of Virginia Railway Express; and Thelma Drake, director of the Virginia Department of Rail and Public Transportation.
Siegel said that Aecom is working with the Federal Railroad Administration as a consultant on the Northeast Corridor Future project. She is a deputy project manager for environmental planning. The Northeast Corridor Future project, she said, will guide long-term investment through 2040 and identify new markets, develop and model new types of regular and intercity service, and evaluate the need for high-speed rail. The service development plan and
The Northeast Corridor Future project, Siegel said, began with
Capon noted that funding is not in place even to finish the Northeast Corridor Future study.
Allen said that VRE wants to grow the system with more platforms, cars, and parking, plus Positive Train Control. Morning trains 304 and 300 from Fredericksburg to Washington are carrying so many passengers that people are standing, he said, and he expects the Spotsylvania station, scheduled to open next winter, to add 400 to
Drake said that Virginia was invited to and participates in the Northeast Corridor commission. Virginia also is a member of the Southeast High Speed Rail multistate project, which depends on Northeast Corridor operations. Dual-powered electric-diesel locomotives like those purchased by New Jersey could save time on Amtrak service in Virginia by eliminating changes at Washington from electric to diesel engines. One reason for Virginias participation in the interstate projects is to protect Virginias investment in intercity rail.
She added that the National Rail Plan needs to define the future of rail. New right of way and electrification are not being considered.
VARP business and board meetings
The members unanimously reelected the directors of the corporation: Michael Testerman, Jim Churchill, Dick Peacock, Herbert Richwine, Jim Bayley, Bill Forster, Allan Carpenter, and Steve Dunham. The board unanimously reelected Steve Dunham to be chairman and the officers to continue in their positions: President Testerman, Executive Vice President Churchill, Secretary Peacock, Treasurer Richwine, and Assistant Treasurer Carpenter.