Railroad transportation in Virginia and many other parts of the country is witnessing a renaissance in popularity and public support as a safe, clean and efficient way to move both freight and passengers.
This article by Richard L. Beadles, a former railroad CEO and one of the founders of the nonprofit Virginia Rail Policy Institute, documents how the state’s relationship with private railroads has come full circle. In the beginning, there was strong support, then none for over a century – only regulation by public authorities – and now Virginia is once again aggressively funding and promoting rail transportation.
Virginia’s recently enacted comprehensive transportation funding bill was a milestone for intercity passenger rail transportation in the state, providing a steady source of revenue for the Intercity Passenger Rail Operating and Capital Fund. The combination of that fund and the previously enacted Rail Enhancement Fund place Virginia in a favorable place to continue funding improvements to conventional freight and passenger infrastructure and services.
Nevertheless, Virginia will eventually need high-speed passenger rail to serve some of its urban corridors, as well as high-performance freight rail to relieve interstate truck traffic on major highways.