Virginia Railway Express Plans Expansion, But is Hyperloop the Future?


Science fiction seems to be inching closer to reality (at hyper speed, no less) in the form of Elon Musk’s Hyperloop concept.

Hyperloop One, among numerous teams vying to be first to develop the technology, successfully sent its magnetically levitating XP-1 test pod zooming at nearly 200 mph through a 1,640-foot concrete vacuum tube at its Nevada desert test site on July 29. It was the second such test run, following the first one in May, and was a headline-grabber last week.

In Virginia, weekend traffic on Interstate 95 can certainly be as bad as it is on weekdays, especially during the summer.

Would running Virginia Railway Express trains during the weekend help unclog the interstate?

VRE thinks so, and the commuter rail service has an eye on providing weekend service, per its 2040 Long-Range Plan.

Hey, that is 23 years from now!

The plan, approved by VRE’s Operations Board in 2014, says weekend service could average 6,000 passenger trips “on a typical weekend day.”

That could take a lot of cars off the interstate.

It appears that any such expansion will rely on two major projects.

One is the Long Bridge project. The proposal calls for widening the bridge that spans the Potomac River, the only such railroad bridge connecting Virginia to Washington.

The other shoe that would have to drop would be the addition of a third track. It seems the fate of that addition relies on the D.C.-to-Richmond High Speed Rail Line proposal.

Both of those projects are winding through the tortuously long planning and approval process. The Federal Railroad Administration is expected to make a final decision in 2019.

In the meantime, maybe the Hyperloop will become a reality and someone will convince Musk to dig a tunnel from Fredericksburg to D.C. so we can stop fooling around and enjoy an easy trip to the capital and back.Both of those projects are winding through the tortuously long planning and approval process. The Federal Railroad Administration is expected to make a final decision in 2019.

In the meantime, maybe the Hyperloop will become a reality and someone will convince Musk to dig a tunnel from Fredericksburg to D.C. so we can stop fooling around and enjoy an easy trip to the capital and back.

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