Virginia's Hampton Roads: Strategic position in the vision for High-Speed Rail in America


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from the Commonwealth Transportation Board's June meeting

presented to the Hampton Roads Partnership Annual Meeting, June 19, 2009

by Pierce Homer, the Commonwealth's Secretary of Transportation

Published in: Business, News & Politics
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  • Start with networks Map from FRA’s Strategic Plan – April 2009 The grey lines are the regular passenger rail routes and the red lines show 10 majors HSR corridors identified – 1992 – “A vision” Blue line – Northeast Corridor Note Virginia’s strategic position – northernmost segement of SE HSR – also note Hampton Roads spur And southern end of Amtrak’s NE corridor – and that in particular is very significant Amtrak has stated repeatedly that they believe the NE corridor should be extended from Washington down to Richmond. And that would mean that Richmond would be connected to the only existing HSR corridor in the US today.
  • Here is a map of the NEC – the only place where trains operate at high speeds today. It is also the busiest railroad in North America with more than 2,600 passenger and freight trains operating over some portion of the D.C. to Boston route each day. In 2008 there were 10.9M passenger trips in the NEC a little more than a third of of all Amtrak system ridership (28.7M) Between Washington DC and NYC, Amtrak now carries more passengers than all of the air carriers combined (63% vs 37%) and about 14% of all passenger trips (including by automobile) between the two cities. So this is the mother load of rail passenger service in the United States and we are at the southern tip of it.
  • Now lets talk about the SE HSR Designated by FRA back in 1992 and the H Roads spur was included at DRPT’s request. Plain black lines show the federally designated hsr rail lines Purple shows where feasibility studies have been completed. The solid red line shows where a Tier 1 EIS and ROD have been completed – Charlotte to Raleigh to Richmond to Washington D.C. The fact that a ROD has been issued signifies that FRA has selected this alignment for future federal investment for HSR. The green line shows that the Richmond to H Roads segment is currently under EIS study by DRPT. And the red and yellow line running from Raleigh to Richmond shows the boundaries of a Tier 2 EIS that currently is underway.
  • This slide shows the status of the Tier II EIS Study conducted by NC DOT with our assistance The Draft Tier II EIS is anticipated to be complete in mid 2010 and public hearings are expected in late 2010. After receiving a Record of Decision from the Federal Railroad Administration, the project will move into preliminary engineering and then construction, a process that is anticipated to take five years to complete. Service is scheduled to begin in 2018. The project schedule is subject to federal funding and approval. $2,345,250 REF funds programmed ($3,975,000 total cost)
  • DRPT has been working with the FRA to close out the Tier I Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS). ·       Five alternatives including three build alternatives: o       Leave service on the Peninsula at conventional speed (79 mph) and build Southside at high speed (both at 90 mph and 110 mph). o       Build Peninsula at high speed (both 90 mph and 110 mph) and build Southside at conventional speed o       Build Peninsula only at high speed (both 90 mph and 110 mph) ·       The report will present the capital and operating costs, ridership and environmental impacts for all of the alternatives.  The capital costs of the alternatives range from $330M to $844M. ·       The report will show a relocated passenger station in Newport News for the Peninsula service and trains will stop in Williamsburg on their way to Richmond. ·       Southside rail passenger service would have a downtown Norfolk station and a Bowers Hill station in Chesapeake and trains will stop in Petersburg on their way to Richmond. ·       The cost of improvements between Richmond and Petersburg are included and indentified in the report for Southside options.  These costs must be included for the alternatives to be comparable.  They also will appear in the report for the Raleigh to Richmond segment.  Either way, the Richmond to Petersburg improvements will be Virginia’s responsibility. ·       Regarding ARRA funds, neither the Raleigh to Richmond segment nor the Richmond to Hampton Roads segment likely will be eligible for funding in the first round of grants because environmental work and engineering work has yet to be completed.  However, FRA has until 2012 to obligate their $8B and depending on the schedule FRA selects; both segments could be eligible to receive some funding before 2012. ·       Virginia and North Carolina will be competing with many other states for funding – both for a portion of the $8B and subsequent appropriations in the President’s budget ($1B per year). ·       Virginia’s top priority will be to make improvements between Richmond/Petersburg and Washington D.C.  These are necessary to provide quality service to Hampton Roads as well. There are a couple of points that you can make about all of this.  First, the incremental time savings achieved by going 110 mph vs 90 mph are small and the cost of capital improvements required to achieve the higher speed are very significant.  Second, reliable and convenient rail passenger service – even at 79 mph – will be attractive to Hampton Road residents so I would hope that not to much attention will be focused on speed.  Norfolk Southern has expressed interest in having rail passenger service operated over the Southside route but at conventional speed and likely will submit comments/suggestions to us when we release the DEIS report for public comment.
  • We cannot release the draft report until authorized by FRA.  We are sending them the report one chapter at a time to try to expedite their review.  We hope to release the report this summer and hold public meetings.
  • So here is a list of all of the passenger rail projects that we have in our plans Top priority Richmond/Petersburg to DC at 90 mph except in certain segments – Petersburg, Ashland Our other HSR corridor Richmond to H. Roads range of costs Commuter rail improvements – Gainseville Haymarket Alt Analysis I-81 and Rt 29 corridor at conventional speed 79mph And then the SEHSR segment from Petersburg to the NC Line.
  • Again our top priority will be improvements between Richmond/Petersburg and Washington D.C. We have identifies $1.5B in improvements that we have broken out into six groupings here. This includes 111 miles of new track numerous station and platform improvements, crossovers, improvements to the geometry of existing tracks and signal system up grades. Most of these improvements are capacity improvements – allowing trains to move around each other (first three). Some – especially in the Richmond area are congestion improvements. And the last group on the list are corridor long improvements that will allow trains to operate at higher speeds. It will be from this list that we will select projects to apply for ARRA funds in the early application rounds.
  • So let me remind you of what ARRA provided for rail passenger programs. Amtrak money $8B for high speed rail Again noting the 2012 date for obligation.
  • FRA released their strategic plan in April and talked about their funding approach. Projects that are ready to go Corridor programs Planning – using non Arra funds Application guidelines were released on Wednesday. Applications for “ready to go” rail projects due by early August. Applications for corridor development projects due by the end of September
  • So here are the key points regarding the outlook for funding Virginia Rail Passenger Service.
  • Virginia's Hampton Roads: Strategic position in the vision for High-Speed Rail in America

    1. 1. Vision for High Speed Rail in the US June 17, 2009 June CTB Meeting
    2. 2. High Speed Rail Today: Northeast Corridor June 17, 2009 June CTB Meeting Amtrak’s Northeast Corridor
    3. 3. June 17, 2009 June CTB Meeting NIT South NIT North Naval Base Naval Base Southeast High Speed Rail Corridor
    4. 4. June 17, 2009 June CTB Meeting NIT South NIT North Naval Base Naval Base <ul><li>Southeast High Speed Rail Tier II EIS underway </li></ul><ul><li>Tier II EIS scheduled for completion in summer 2010, Record of Decision anticipated in 2011 </li></ul><ul><li>Once environmental work is complete, preliminary engineering will begin </li></ul><ul><li>Current schedule calls for service to begin in 2018, subject to federal funding and approval </li></ul><ul><li>This project does not include the Richmond/Hampton Roads region </li></ul>High Speed Rail Planning Initiatives Petersburg to Raleigh, NC Corridor
    5. 5. <ul><li>Richmond/Hampton Roads Passenger Rail Project Tier I EIS – 5 Alternatives </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Status Quo </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>No Action – baseline for comparison, no major improvements beyond current regional transportation plans, </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Alternative 1 – three daily, conventional speed round trip trains on the Peninsularoute, and six daily, high speed round trip trains on the Southside route </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Alternative 2 – six daily, high speed round trip trains on the Peninsula route, and three daily, conventional speed round trip trains on the Southside route </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Alternative 2b – nine daily, high speed round trip trains on the Peninsula route only </li></ul></ul>June 17, 2009 June CTB Meeting Southside NS Route Peninsula CSXT Route High Speed Rail Initiatives Richmond to Hampton Roads Corridor
    6. 6. <ul><li>Project Status </li></ul><ul><li>Tier I Draft EIS completion in summer 2009, public comment opportunities available </li></ul><ul><li>CTB will make decision regarding preferred alternative based on analysis and public comment report </li></ul><ul><li>Tier I Final EIS submitted to FRA for review once preferred alternative is selected by CTB </li></ul><ul><li>Schedule is subject to federal approvals; however, the FRA Record of Decision on the route that will be eligible to receive federal funding is anticipated in early 2010 </li></ul><ul><li>Funding must be identified to advance into next phase of environmental study after the Tier I EIS, and ultimately, to operate service </li></ul>High Speed Rail Initiatives Richmond to Hampton Roads Corridor June 17, 2009 June CTB Meeting
    7. 7. Intercity Passenger Rail Projects June 17, 2009 June CTB Meeting Naval Base <ul><li>$1.5 Billion Richmond/Petersburg to DC High Speed Rail (90 mph) </li></ul><ul><li>$300 - $800 Million Richmond to Hampton Roads High Speed Rail </li></ul><ul><li>$303 Million Commuter Rail Improvements </li></ul><ul><li>$170 Million I-81/Rt 29 Corridor Passenger Rail </li></ul><ul><li>$797 Million Southeast High Speed Rail Petersburg to N.C. Line </li></ul>
    8. 8. June 17, 2009 June CTB Meeting Alexandria (AF) to Fredericksburg (FB) ~ $383M 3 rd Main line sections Dalghren to Franconia – 38 miles 2 nd Platforms/extensions at VRE Lorton, Rippon, Brook, Leeland, Woodbridge, and Franconia Fredericksburg (FB) to Richmond (GN) ~ $185M 3 rd Main line sections Fredericksburg to Richmond – 32 miles 4 th Main line section Fredericksburg to Mine Road – 5 miles Richmond (GN) to Main Street Sta. Area ~ $491M Acca Yard improvements in 2 Phases – 6 miles South Acca to Main Street Sta/Area/Fulton/Platforms – 13 miles Main Street Station to Petersburg/Collier ~ $152M Main Street to Centralia Track and Signal @ 79MPH – 11 miles Washington, D.C. to Richmond Corridor Long ~ $195M Track curve geometry, crossover, and signal system upgrade Washington, D.C. to Alexandria (AF) ~ $106M 4 th Main line section through Alexandria – 6 miles Alexandria Station ADA Improvements 2 nd Platforms at VRE Crystal City Station Top Priority High Speed Rail Projects Washington, D.C. to Richmond/Petersburg Corridor
    9. 9. American Recovery and Reinvestment Act February 2009 <ul><li>$1.3 Billion for Amtrak capital grants </li></ul><ul><li>$8 Billion for High Speed Rail </li></ul><ul><li>Funds available until September 30, 2012 </li></ul>June 17, 2009 June CTB Meeting
    10. 10. Federal High Speed Rail Strategic Plan April 2009 June 17, 2009 June CTB Meeting <ul><li>Proposed Funding Approach </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Projects: provide grants to complete individual ready to go projects </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Corridor programs: enter into cooperative agreements to develop entire phases or geographic sections </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Planning: enter into cooperative agreements for planning activities using non-ARRA appropriation </li></ul></ul>
    11. 11. Key Points Regarding Virginia Rail Passenger Service June 17, 2009 June CTB Meeting <ul><li>$8 Billion in ARRA and $5 Billion in FRA Appropriations is a small portion of the needs identified for passenger rail in the USA. </li></ul><ul><li>Virginia will be competing nationally for these funds but has some advantages: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Framework agreements in place with railroads </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Agreement with Amtrak for state sponsored passenger rail service </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>State funding program for rail capital projects </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Very little additional right of way needed for most projects – less potential environmental impacts </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Close working relationship with CSX, VRE, Amtrak, and FRA to develop key projects in the I-95 corridor </li></ul><ul><li>Virginia will need a dedicated source of funding for passenger rail operations to remain competitive for federal funding </li></ul>