Encouraged by the reality of daily passenger service from Lynchburg to Washington, D.C., Albemarle County Supervisor Ann Mallek (White Hall) sought the full Boardâ€™s support for a feasibility study for daily commuter service from Crozet to Charlottesville. The Board agreed on April 1, 2009 to send a letter to Senator Mark Warner (D-VA) officially seeking grant opportunities to study the idea further.
The service is proposed to be run on rails operated by the Buckingham Branch Rail Road (BBRR) , according to Mallek. She has met with Charlottesville Mayor Dave Norris to discuss the idea with the railroad companyâ€™s officials. Buckingham Branch operates a railroad line that runs nearly 200 miles from Clifton Forge to Richmond on its Piedmont Branch.
The idea sprung up from a conversation between City resident John Pfaltz and Gale Wilson, the General Manager of the BBRRâ€™s Richmond-Alleghany Division. Wilson identified three challenges, according to Pfaltz:
* Amtrak would need to sponsor the project and CSX, which owns the rail line, would need to approve the servicePfaltz said the second item could be overcome by extending a â€œpassing trackâ€ that currently exists in Ivy. This extra track would allow either the CSX train or the commuter train to park while the other train passes by. He estimates the start-up costs would be around $5 million.
* CSX trains and Amtrakâ€™s Cardinal service would take priority on the line
* Fencing would be required to keep pedestrians off of the track through Charlottesville
(Hat Tip: C-Ville)
In a poll on RealCrozetVA last year, nearly 90% of respondents said that they would be willing to use rail service from Crozet to Charlottesville. About 60% of respondents said that they would be willing to pay less that five dollars each way –
The real challenge may lie in the answer to this question – what do you do when you get to Charlottesville? One idea is to have one of the rail cars be a bike car – then use bicycles to get around town.