CSX Corp. has closed the first phase of its $525 million rail agreement with Virginia for the commonwealth’s $3.7 billion initiative to improve passenger and freight rail capacity and relieve automotive traffic congestion.
The “Transforming Rail in Virginia” initiative, which Gov. Ralph Northam unveiled in December 2019, will “expand Amtrak and VRE [Virginia Railway Express] rail services, create a pathway for the separation of freight and passenger rail in Virginia, and preserve future rail corridors.” The commonwealth, Amtrak, CSX and VRE finalized agreements last month.
CSX said it will sell certain interests in three CSX-owned line segments for a total of $525 million. According to the initiative, Virginia will acquire 384 miles of CSX right-of-way and 223 miles of track in rail corridors paralleling I-95, I-64 and I-85 (see map below).
“This first phase of the agreement is for the conveyance of a permanent land easement to enable the separation of passenger and freight rail operations in the Washington, D.C., to Petersburg, Va., corridor,” the Class I railroad reported. “The remaining phases of the deal relate to line segments from Petersburg, Va., to Ridgeway, N.C., and from Doswell, Va., to Clifton Forge, Va. CSX anticipates closing on the remaining conveyances over the next two years.”
“CSX is pleased to close the first phase of this transaction with the Commonwealth of Virginia,” President and CEO James M. Foote said. “This transaction highlights our ability to find creative ways to generate meaningful value from our assets while enhancing the safety and efficiency of passenger and freight rail service in a vital transportation corridor. CSX looks forward to our continued partnership with the commonwealth, which will benefit commuters as well as our valued freight customers in the future.”
In 2020, Gov. Northam signed legislation creating the Virginia Passenger Rail Authority (VPRA) to manage and govern statewide passenger and commuter rail service. VPRA will also administer all capital expansion projects, infrastructure and land acquisitions related to the “Transforming Rail in Virginia” initiative.