VRE to contribute millions to advancing Transforming Rail in Virginia

The Virginia Railway Express will make a significant financial contribution of nearly $195 million to the Transforming Rail in Virginia programme.

Virginia Railway Express Train at Manassas Train Station, Virginia

The Virginia Railway Express (VRE) have successfully closed a public bond sale and will make a significant financial contribution to the Transforming Rail in Virginia (TRV) programme. The commuter rail service will use $119.2 million of the bond proceeds to support the commonwealth’s purchase of rail right-of-way in the Interstate 95 corridor from CSX Transportation.

“This bond issuance demonstrates our commitment to revolutionising rail travel in the region,” Rich Dalton, CEO of VRE, said. “As a major beneficiary of Transforming Rail in Virginia, VRE has worked to identify opportunities to support this important initiative. In addition to funds from the bond issuance, VRE will contribute another $75 million over the next 10 years on a pay-as-you-go basis, bringing our total financial support to nearly $195 million.”

Those funds will go to the Virginia Passenger Rail Authority (VPRA), which manages the $4 billion TRV programme.

“Our Transforming Rail in Virginia initiative is an immense investment in passenger rail not seen in decades,” DJ Stadtler, Executive Director of VPRA, said. “This financial contribution from our VRE partners will enable us to increase and improve service, making VRE a viable option for even more Virginians. We thank VRE for their foresight and commitment to expanding passenger rail in the commonwealth.”

Demand for the bonds, issued under the name of the Northern Virginia Transportation Commission (NVTC) which co-owns VRE, was strong based on double-A credit ratings and a green bond designation. Green bonds fund projects with environmental benefits. Net proceeds from VRE’s bond issuance will support the acquisition of rail right-of-way, essential to increasing passenger rail service. The expansion of VRE service, to include off-peak, evening and weekend trains, and intercity passenger rail service will help reduce future emissions of greenhouse gases and particulates.

Created by the General Assembly in 2018, the CROC Fund receives $15 million annually from motor fuels tax revenues collected in the jurisdictions represented on VRE’s two parent commissions, NVTC and the Potomac and Rappahannock Transportation Commission. The final maturity date for the entire bond series is 1 June 2052. VRE’s additional $75 million contribution to TRV also will come from the CROC Fund.

Beyond these financial contributions, VRE will support TRV through station and rail infrastructure improvements. Its $1.1 billion capital improvements programme is more than two-thirds funded. Among the projects are those that would lengthen existing and build new platforms to accommodate longer trains and allow for the simultaneous boarding of two trains at a station.

VRE, America’s 13th largest commuter rail service, connects Central and Northern Virginia with the District of Columbia. VRE is recognised for its provision of safe, reliable, convenient, and comfortable transportation.