The next VRE online forum will start on Wednesday, November 5th at 12:00pm. Click on the "ASK" Button below to submit a question.
There are currently 41 questions waiting to be answered.
The Holidays are upon us. The 18th Annual Operation Lifesaver Santa Trains are scheduled to operate on Saturday, December 13, 2014. As always trains will operate from: Fredericksburg, Woodbridge, Manassas and Burke Centre. Tickets will go on-sale at 9:00am on Monday, November 24, 2014. Tickets can be purchased on line or at various vendor locations. Stay tuned to vre.org for updates.
In the studio today we have Chris Henry, Director of Rail Operations and Richard Black, Transportation Manager for the Manassas side.
Now onto the questions!
John from Woodbridge asks:
what's the latest on a new midday train?
We are still planning to add a train. However, we are still working with the host railroad company to finalize approval. Then we can determine the schedule.
Matt from Lorton asks:
How does VRE determine the passenger count for each consist?
The passenger count is done by the conductors on the train.
Nomore Excuses from Sick & Tired asks:
There should never be less than 6 cars on any consist!!!!!!!
We agree we should have more cars. However, for the later trains the average number of riders is low enough to justify the 4 or 5 car sets. In the case of Fredericksburg train 302 the passenger load justified switching consists with Fredericksburg train 300.
Chad from Burke, VA asks:
When will VRE add a 2:00 outbound train from Union Station along the Manassas Line? It is a great inconvenience to have to plan an early departure at either 1:15 or 3:45, with nothing departing on the Manassas Line in between those times.
At this time there are no plans to add an additional Manassas Line train.
SissyO from PWC VA asks:
Can I ask why it's impossible to moderate temperature to not be freezing every morning? I've talked my conductor a couple of times and apparently they don't know the temperature unless they walk through the cars. Don't you guys have a temperature regulator? LOL. Seriously though it should never be colder in the train than outside (in the winter).
There are thermostats in the train to report any issues please post specific information to firstname.lastname@example.org or fill in a train information form at http://www.vre.org/feedback/mechanicalconcerns.php
Woodford Commuter from Woodford, VA asks:
Last month I asked about Government fare subsidies and its contribution to higher fares. You responded: "Move on". I expect better from a Texan. Please be more specific and not brush the question off so dismissively.
Sorry, that was a typo. Government fare subsidies does not contribute to higher fares.
Woodford Commuter from Woodford, VA asks:
I do not know what statistics you folks are looking at, but 300 is in desperate need of an extra car! The conductors have even told me that they have even asked for it. Why do you insist on not meeting this demand? Please do not give me the "we are looking into it" answer.
Starting Monday November 3, 2014 we increased train 300 to 6 cars from 5. There are now seats available for everyone who wants one.
Derrick from Fredericksburg asks:
What going on with the shorter cars on 302
We noticed that the average passenger load on 302 could be accommodated by 5 cars, while 300 needed 6 cars.
Bob from Va asks:
How are the corrective actions on the moaning and creaking coaches going? I've reported five over the last three months. All are still creaking and groaning. It's systemic throughout the system so please don't ask for specific coach numbers. All the recently delivered coaches are silent.
We have a regularly scheduled maintenance program on all of our equipment. If we notice something is not safe for operation we immediately take it out of service.
Rv from Burke asks:
Has there been a speed restriction just south of Alexandria? We have been creeping through that area for several weeks.
There is a speed restriction in that area.
Richard from Spotsylvania asks:
What is the status of the Spotsy station?
Are there any estimated dates on when it will open?
Projected Summer 2015. It is our goal to run the Firecracker trains from Spotsylvania station.
Poupon from Degrasse asks:
Thank you for having Stafford County sheriff ticket all the scofflaws who parked illegally at Leeland Station.
Now, if we just could get new station signage erected. If you have not been out in the morning or night -- it is dark. The station announcements are made just as the train is pulling out. Little late to figure out where we are. Whose idea was it to put the station signs 50 feet in the air and not facing the trains?
Our automated announcements are set to alert you of the next station when leaving the previous station, when approaching the next station, and when arriving at the current station. We are looking at redesigning passenger information displays at stations.
David from Manassas, VA asks:
I've had a little bit of experience with the new passenger cars (the ones that have the see-through sections in the upper racks). I really like the new cars and have noticed something. As we go through the tunnel at Union Station, I no longer smell fumes in the upper level seats. Apparently the dampers (or what ever it is they are called) don't leak.
When will we get more of these new cars?
We have ordered 12 new cars and we will begin to receive them in 2016. There has been no design change in the damper system.
Kevin from fredericksburg asks:
what are your plans about providing seating. i use to catch the 303 home in the evening now i have to catch 305 if i want a seat.
303 with an 8 car set has plenty of seating. The northern two cars always have available seating. The challenge is getting the passengers to move to those open seats.
concerned from Washington, dc asks:
With everyone being on heightened alert these days, what is VRE doing to protect us from possible threats? Union station has the dogs everywhere on the Amtrak side and I have yet to see anything on VRE making their presence known. no uniformed cop or patrol dogs, nada..
We currently have Undercover Law Enforcement Officers on-board our trains. We also have Visible Intermodal Prevention and Response (VIPR) teams that regularly monitor our trains.
Standing from VA asks:
I thought you were going to add another train into the schedule in October?
See previously asked question on additional train.
Early Times from Fredericksburg asks:
Has the extra car on the 300 train been added permanently?
It has been added due to the passenger load. We analyze ridership daily and make adjustments as ridership trends change.
jp from woodbridge asks:
What is the update on adding a new train to the Fredericksburg line and will it arrive earlier at Union Station than todays VRE 300? Keep up the good service and thanks.
Still working on the additional train, however, it will not arrive before 300.
Sal from Stafford, VA asks:
The platform at Brooke is not long enough for the length of the trains. When do you plan to extend it? It would be safer for all riders to extend it in a southerly direction to allow an additional access point to the parking lot. Thanks!
We currently have plans to lengthen the platforms at all stations to accommodate longer trains. No estimated time of completion on these projects. Stay tuned for updates.
Wanda from Manassas Park asks:
several months ago I asked about repainting the stripes for parking spaces. It is getting harder and harder to see them and parking in the dark is no help either. Is this ever going to happen or will only the railings get attention? thanks.
We hope to have them re-striped by next month depending on the weather.
Joey from Leeland Road asks:
is there a canopy for the whole platform at Leeland Road in the budget/schedule? and thank you VERY much for the additional car on the 300 !!! what an improvement it makes...
There is no plan to add a canopy to cover the entire platform. Glad you like the change to 300.
Anti-Q-Ball from Manassas asks:
Q-Balls...these people are rude; blocking the upper deck stairwells; making smart comments like "You should have gotten up sooner"; forget about trying to get to the luggage stand...an example is the guy that gets off the train at Union Station; he q's up at Crystal City. :p Over a year ago, a conductor told me to not que up until the train doors closed. This is obviously not a message that is stated very often or it's just ignored. But for the safety of the passengers trying to disembark, these q'balls need to quit it.
Queueing is an ongoing issue. We will continue to work with our conductors to better manage this.
Ed from Burke, VA asks:
I don't want to make this sound like a big deal but I don't understand why the door from the quiet car won't open at Burke. True, it does most of the time but it is not unusual for all the other doors to open but not this one. This happens on Trains 329 & 331 (last night it was 329)
The only reason it would not open is if that car was not on the platform. Conductors should make announcements if a specific door(s) will not open. Richard will look into this.
Dave from Woodbridge asks:
Thank you all for adding the additional car to the 300 Express. Def makes a difference.
Mike from Fred VAgas asks:
You know it was coming: How come the Manassas line has all new cars and we're still riding the prison trains?
There is currently only one consist of Legacy cars in the system. We have more room at our Crossroads Maintenance Facility so we consolidated the Legacy cars to the Fredericksburg side. The additional seven cars needed to replace all Legacy cars currently in operation have been ordered.
Smithly from Orange, VA asks:
The quiet car is a myth. Between people talking, talking on their phones, having electronic items makes noise and the train cars groaning/squeaking it's a noisy ride. Doesn't help when the announcements state the "Quiet car is in the rear of the train." when in fact the quiet car is in the front of the train.
The Quiet Car is always located next to the locomotive, south end of the train. If you notice an incorrect announcement please send the specific car number to email@example.com.
John from Richmond, Va asks:
Good morning! Can the number and volume of station announcements be lowered on the 'quiet' car? Three per station is a bit much - "next station is ..." , "arriving at...". "now at..." - thanks!
The number of announcements cannot change and the volume is set the same on every car.
Paul from Woodbridge, VA asks:
Can you please re-evaluate decision to put less cars on the 302 northbound train and also the 303 southbound train? Both have been packed solid, standing room only on north and south routes this week. Conductor explained they removed a car and put on another train to ease their overcrowding. Something needs to be done. Not even enough standing room available.
303â€™s consist has not changed. It is still an 8 car set, which is the longest train we run. With Halloween and Election Day both falling within the last week we have seen heavier than normal passenger loads as people left work early for those events.
The consist swap between trains 300 and 302 was the result of a long standing trend of higher ridership on train 300. Train 302 has ample seating for the passengers carried but passengers may need to move to different cars to find the available seating.
Tom from Manassas, VA asks:
Why does VRE not provide free WiFi for riders? Are there any plans to implement wifi?
VRE has tested devices with the current cell technology on both lines. There are still significant areas that do not get signal. We hope to be able to include Wi-Fi with other operational upgrades. Currently there is no estimated time.
J from Woodbridge, VA asks:
The growth & improvement over the past few years to service and infrastructure is wonderful and much appreciated. That said, is there a plan to enclose the stairs at Rippon? I think there was talk of this a few years ago, but birds were actively nesting, so the plan (as I remember it) was to wait until the birds left the nest and then enclose the stairs or at least add a screen at the top to keep them from nesting in the spring. Enclosing the stairs might reduce some of the rusting as sometimes it seems the water dripping from the steps above you is falling harder than the rain outside.
We donâ€™t have plans to enclose the stairs, but there are plans to address the rust.
Adam from Fredericksburg, VA asks:
When will the VRE begin weekend service to the DC area? If the concern is a demand, please do a survey to confirm the demand. Also, when will VRE add new times to the regular weekday schedule?
We have no current plans to operate weekend service.
Donna from Fredericksburg, VA asks:
Can you explain why train 308 is late every day? I understand some of the issues are switch problems or train traffic, but over the past several weeks, our conductors will wait for passengers to approach the platform even though we are already 3-4 mintues behind. They have gotten used to the train being late. Some of us have connecting transportation in Springfield, those 3-4 minutes add up which cause us to miss our connection. For example, today we were 5 minutes late because they had to "tweak" something on the train.
Today there was an issue with re-stowing an on board lift. We would have to address each delay individually and we donâ€™t have the information in front of us right now. If you will send your question to firstname.lastname@example.org we will look into it further.
Thomas from Manassas, VA asks:
The 326 train has been running consistently late the past few weeks. Is there a specific reason?
The issue with 326 is primarily a schedule issue. We are currently working with the host railroads to revise all schedules so that they are accurate.
Disgusting in Fredericksburg from VA asks:
Simple question; Is chewing tobacco allowed on the train? I know it is smoke free, and no e-Cigarettes, but it is disgusting to see someone spitting in a bottle on the train.
Yes, it is allowed on the trains.
Mike from Fairfax VA asks:
Why no service on Veteran's Day? FED holiday ack'd -- many are no granted by company AND this year is a Concert for the Veterans and use of public transport is preferred....
In the past year we ran limited service on both Columbus Day and Martin Luther King Jr. Day and did not see the level of demand that would justify the cost of running on some of these federal holidays.
John from Fredericksburg VA asks:
There are number of lights out at the Fredericksburg Station. Since the time change, arriving home to Fredericksburg in the darkness makes for a difficult and dangerous walk down the stairs..
Hopefully this gets fixed soon.
We have notified the City of Fredericksburg and hope to have this resolved today.
Yvette from Fredericksburg asks:
When will the Massaponax Station open?
Laura from Fairfax, VA asks:
Could I leave my car at the Burke Center Garage over nignt? How many days can I leave my car there?
Overnight parking is permitted, however, at your own risk.
Michele from Spotsylvania, Virginia asks:
Just responding to the critique of David Gobel in the last forum.
Perhaps too much focus on personality, which is subjective, and more focus on the conductor's service is helpful. My experiences with Mr. Gobel were all positive. He is cheerful, concerned about his passenger's safety and he kept us informed of the train's status at all times. We were rarely late, and when we were, he let us know why. I appreciated his help and professionalism.
Thank you for your compliments about Mr. Goble we will pass this along to his manager.
Jake from Manassas Va asks:
What can be done about the huge backpacks swinging about and hitting people? Seems like every year the backpacks get bigger and more dangerous. If you sit on an aisle seat you will usually get smacked in the head from one. When boarding the trains you can pretty banged up as they swing them about
Courtesy reminder to remove your backpack and carry it through the train.
John from Manassas Park, VA asks:
What can be done about the cars and motorcycles parking in the crosswalk areas designated for handicapped and pedestrians since it is the only aea where the curb is lowered for handicapped.
We will work with Manassas Park Police to monitor and address as needed.
Linda from VA asks:
Will there be an event to get VRE Senior/HC photo ID's replaced/updated any time soon. That's since mine had expired. Thanks.
Please contact Anna Gotthardt at email@example.com.
Barry from Lorton, VA asks:
Will trains run the day after Thanksgiving (10/27)?
Yes, we will operate the â€śSâ€ť Schedule.
Steve from Burke, VA asks:
Recently on train 333 a new rider made a common mistake: she validated in the a.m. and thought she was covered for the day. As often happens, the conductor treated her like a cop arresting a thief, wrote a citation, and kicked her off the train. Why does you create such negative experiences? If the goal is to validate tickets, let riders do so at the next station, which is a POSITIVE experience. Instead, you've created another enemy (the rider next to her even apologized for her treatment). It's time to rethink your counterproductive policy, especially since folks can't validate once onboard.
We are in the process of changing the 2-ride ticket to a Day Pass, so that it only needs to be validated once.
Joe from Burke, Virginia asks:
Recently, my car was vandalized in broad daylight while parked in the Rolling Road parking lot. What measures does VRE take to patrol VRE parking lots to avoid having passengers' cars vandalized? Do you coordinate with Fairfax County police?
Yes, we do coordinate with Fairfax County Police who take the matter just as seriously as we do. They patrol frequently as they maintain jurisdiction of that property.
David from Woodbridge, VA asks:
Why are the controls inside VRE's locomotives different from MARC's locomotives? Both VRE and MARC bought the same model locomotive.
We customized the inside of our cabs to meet the needs of our operation.
Lelia from Washington, DC asks:
Are there discounts on fares for Veterans?
While we appreciate the sacrifice of military service, we do not offer a military discount. We are required to achieve 50% cost recovery from fares. With a high percentage of our passengers being military or ex-military, we cannot afford to offer the discount.
Bob from Manassas, VA asks:
Would you please have conductors find a better place to store step stools than in the baggage area? This is a pretty consistent problem on Manassas Line 327 when commuters run out of room and one reason is the stools.
We will talk to the conductors to look for an alternative spot when necessary.
Matt from Woodbridge, VA asks:
Almost every morning, Train #306 has to go to slow between Alex and Crystal City because of a Manassas Line train. Can VRE do something about this so that the Manassas Train doesn't delay the Fredericksburg Train?
As alluded to in another question, we are working with the host railroads to revise our schedule to identify situations such as these and correct operating times accordingly.
Tim from Lorton, VA asks:
Will VRE start using the 2 storage tracks at L'Enfant Plaza next year?
Yes, we hope to have it available by summer of next year.
Tim from Rippon, VA asks:
Only 51 days until Christmas. When will VRE have the Santa Train information posted?
We are waiting for approval of the schedule. As soon as that happens, we will release the information. Stay Tuned!
Ed from Stafford, VA asks:
1. Could you establish more quiet cars?
With the longer consists, doubling or tripling the number of quiet cars seems feasible.
2. Is it policy to allow riders to play computer games that constantly have beeping noises?
It's a daily occurrence on trains 310 and 311. And these are on cars where almost every rider is not speaking, so it stands out.
No plans for expansion of the Quiet Cars. Computer game noises should be treated just like music and any audio should go through the headphones.
dave from gainesville VA asks:
I keep reading about MARC/VRE uniting for thru service between VA and MD. Any comments?
Please see our System Plan 2040 http://www.vre.org/about/strategic/strategic_plan.htm
Pegleg from Woodbridge asks:
I know you said you are looking into it, but WHEN will you add another car to 300?? We are tired of standing!!!
A sixth car was added this past Monday, November 3rd.
Andrew from Manassas Park asks:
What is the status of the VRE Mobile Application?
Our plan is to run a beta test at the end of January 2015 with full system rollout in April.
Paul from Woodbridge, VA asks:
We is Management so "terse" in their answers? A polite question is asked, "are there speed restrictions", and the answer is "yes there are speed restrictions". Please be cordial enough to provide a reply with a little detail, beyond the obvious. Maybe explain "what" the speed restriction is in place for, to answer the riders question.
In a time sensitive forum like this we try to answer as many questions as possible. Sorry if you were offended. Speed restrictions are put in place for many reasons. The speed restriction you are referencing is due to track and switch maintenance.
Ken from Fairfax asks:
Friday, 31 October 2014 was my last ride on VRE. I started riding almost 16 years ago. There've been many changes, new equipment, and the change from AMTRAK to Keolis crews.
I'd like to point out Cindy on the Manassas line. Her smile, calm, cheerful manner, quick (but kind) wit kept things going best possible when things didn't always go right. VRE has always been different from METRO - more personal and about cooperation. Conductors are people -- and she's one of the best.
Thank you for your years of riding. Richard will be sure to recognize Cindy for her efforts.
Stephen from Gainesville, VA asks:
Have seen your response to additional trains to Manassas on previously asked questions, but would like to know why? I (and others) don't understand why Fredericksburg is planning on another train and there is no plans for another Manassas line.
Adding an end of line station at Spotsylvania will increase ridership on that line. The demand on the Fredericksburg Line exceeds the demand on the Manassas Line.
M.Owens from Fredericksburg, Va asks:
You mentioned a FIRECRACKER Training for Spotsylvania - what is FIRECRACKER?
Firecracker Trains are special event trains that operate on the Fourth of July to take passengers to Washington, DC to see the fireworks.
Thanks for the great questions. We had another fun-filled hour.
Happy Thanksgiving!! Safety reminder... If you are going to fry a turkey follow proper instructions.
See tracks? Think trains!
Stay off, Stay Alive!
See you next month.
Chris, Rich et al.