Encouraged by the reality of daily passenger service from Lynchburg to Washington, D.C., Albemarle County Supervisor Ann Mallek (White Hall) sought the full Board’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 company’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 BBRR’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 service
* CSX trains and Amtrak’s Cardinal service would take priority on the line
* Fencing would be required to keep pedestrians off of the track through Charlottesville
Pfaltz said the second item could be overcome by extending a “passing track” 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.
(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.