By Paul R. Hitchcock, Holland & Knight LLP, Lexology; September 26, 2017
The Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) has moved an ambitious rail infrastructure project a major step forward by approving a Tier II Draft Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for the Washington, D.C. to Richmond, Virginia, rail corridor. These passenger service and rail infrastructure improvements are more formally known as the Washington, D.C. to Richmond Southeast High Speed Rail Project, or DC2RVA.
This 123 mile-long railroad line is owned by CSX Transportation and hosts Amtrak and Virginia Railway Express (VRE) commuter trains. On its densest portions, it must accommodate 25 Amtrak trains, 34 VRE trains and 30 CSX freight trains each day. With freight, intercity passenger, and commuter operations sharing this corridor, it is hardly surprising that that the line is at or near capacity and operations are challenged. As the EIS notes, without investment there is little prospect of increasing passenger or commuter operations as population and associated demand grows.