Author Topic: CSX Sells to Virignia Transforming Rail Initiative  (Read 2482 times)

jaxlongtimer

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CSX Sells to Virignia Transforming Rail Initiative
« on: April 19, 2021, 05:31:46 PM »
CSX is selling 380 miles of rail right-of-way and 223 miles of track to the Commonwealth of Virginia so it can build a "21st Century" passenger and freight "Transforming Rail" network that may ultimately include the "entire" East Coast.

https://www.bizjournals.com/jacksonville/news/2021/04/16/csx-transforming-rail-in-virginia-sale.html?utm_source=st&utm_medium=en&utm_campaign=ae&utm_content=ja&ana=e_ja_ae&j=23565058&senddate=2021-04-17
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Jacksonville-based CSX Corp. closed the first portion of its $525 million sale of track to the Commonwealth of Virginia on Thursday.

The phase announced Thursday will create a permanent easement that would enable the separation of passenger and freight rail operations between Petersburg, Va. and Washington D.C.

“CSX is pleased to close the first phase of this transaction with the Commonwealth of Virginia,” said President and CEO James M. Foote. “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.”

The sale, which was announced last month, is part of the Transforming Rail in Virginia initiative. In the program, the Commonwealth will construct a passenger rail bridge over the Potomac river as well as acquire 380 miles of rail right-of-way and 223 miles of track.

When the sale was announced Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam said the sale was part of an agreement that produced “an unprecedented opportunity to build a 21st century rail system in Virginia and along the entire East Coast.

Earlier this month, the Commonwealth announced Donald A. Stadtler, Jr. will serve as Executive Director of the Virginia Passenger Rail Authority. One of Stadtler’s roles will be leading the newly created organization’s strategy, operations and policy development as well as working with private-sector partners like CSX.

CSX noted it anticipates closing the remaining conveyances over the next two years.
« Last Edit: April 19, 2021, 05:38:58 PM by jaxlongtimer »

jaxlongtimer

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Re: CSX Sells to Virignia Transforming Rail Initiative
« Reply #1 on: April 19, 2021, 11:53:38 PM »
^ So does anyone on the Jaxson know what Virginia is up to and how it contrasts with goings-on in Florida with Brightline, Sunrail, etc.?

marcuscnelson

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Re: CSX Sells to Virignia Transforming Rail Initiative
« Reply #2 on: April 20, 2021, 11:06:02 AM »
The big difference is that Virginia is what it looks like when a state actively wants to develop intercity and regional passenger rail. Not necessarily high speed rail like California (although I believe the portion into North Carolina was bought with that in mind), but relatively fast.

Here's a map of what they're doing:



The Florida equivalent to this would be something like FDOT buying all the CSX track between Jacksonville and Miami plus the Florida Gulf & Atlantic to Pensacola from RailUSA. Then spending billions to upgrade the existing track, add passenger-only tracks and construct new bridges, with Tri-Rail investing several hundred million and Amtrak pitching in over a billion, as well as purchasing whatever they can to start angling towards HSR from Jax to Atlanta. Any Florida plan would probably cost more than Virginia, because Florida is a larger state, but it would have the opportunity to be as much if not more rewarding. Obviously there's no equivalent to Brightline up there, but Tri-Rail seems the more likely parallel to Virginia Rail Express than SunRail would be.

In terms of what's going on here, the state has pretty much abdicated any responsibility for developing intercity rail to Brightline, and if anything is being rather hostile about it. Orlando is begging Brightline to build along the old FL HSR route (at apparently twice the cost) to cover all the theme parks instead of along SR 417 to only Disney, while the state is demanding payment for traffic lost on SR 417 to Brightline. Brightline is apparently also looking at extending west to Dolphin Mall.

JTA is planning another study on First Coast Commuter Rail with the gas tax money, but still focused on the Jax-St. Augustine corridor even though Brightline will probably pitch in with more of its own money if we're willing to wait. Although it's also possible that by the time we actually gather the needed documentation support and funds to do it they'll be waiting anyway.

On a brighter note, it sounds like SunRail's expansion to DeLand is happening.
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bl8jaxnative

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Re: CSX Sells to Virignia Transforming Rail Initiative
« Reply #3 on: April 20, 2021, 04:00:31 PM »
^ So does anyone on the Jaxson know what Virginia is up to and how it contrasts with goings-on in Florida with Brightline, Sunrail, etc.?

Sunrail == Commuter rail

Brightline == private passenger rail


Virginia Railway Express == Commmuter Rail


Amtrak === govt owned corp providing rail service.

Amtrak runs a northeast corridor regional service down through Richmond down to Newport News.  They may still also one that goes down to Roanoke. They may have been a temp exp.  Anywho...... This portion of the regional is largely funded by the state of Virginia.

Virginia DOT == owners of property and rail. 

I wouldn't call Florida DOT hostile.  Brighline's already dropped the ball several times.  They've been rather patient with them.

jaxlongtimer

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Re: CSX Sells to Virignia Transforming Rail Initiative
« Reply #4 on: May 11, 2021, 12:55:44 PM »
Update below on this project.  Interesting to compare Virginia's goals of increasing inter-city rail with Florida's goal of increasing inter-city interstates.

I note the irony of this being done with Jax-based CSX who also was responsible for selling NYC its Highline.  CSX is working with states and cities to better their world while at its HQ's town, our leadership has nothing to put on the table for them to consider here.

I also note that Va. is spending a total of $525 million to obtain this state-wide right of way and get this project off the ground (albeit with billions more to follow, notably including $944 million from Amtrak). Compare that to JTA's spending over $400 million for an 8 to 10 mile system that won't work and won't be used when completed.

Quote
Virginia’s $3.7 billion effort to expand commuter and passenger rail service took a big step in recent weeks with the acquisition of right-of-way and track from CSX Corp. (NASDAQ: CSX), covering an area stretching from D.C. to well south of Richmond.

While Northern Virginia, from the District to roughly Quantico, comprises maybe a quarter of that corridor, the land and track purchased by Virginia’s Department of Rail and Public Transportation represents the bulk of the $485 million purchase price, according to land records.

The right-of-way and track purchase in Alexandria alone ran the DRPT $133.8 million, according to the deed signed March 24 and later filed with the Circuit Court of Alexandria. The DRPT also acquired 25 parcels in Fairfax County from CSX for $64.13 million and additional right-of-way and track in Prince William County for $14.5 million, according to public records.

Deeds have not yet been recorded in Arlington County.

That’s $214 million without accounting for Arlington or D.C. — or 44% of the total price tag in this first phase of acquisitions. Later phases of the deal between Jacksonville, Florida’s CSX and Virginia, covering right-of-way and track from Petersburg to Ridgeway, North Carolina, and from Doswell to Clifton Forge, Virginia, will take the total cost to $525 million.

“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 CEO James Foote said in an April 15 statement.

The Transforming Rail in Virginia initiative involves the separation of freight and passenger rail operations in an effort to significantly expand rail operations — in our area, that means Virginia Railway Express and Amtrak service. The effort, to be anchored by a new $1.9 billion rail bridge over the Potomac River between Arlington and D.C., includes the Interstate 95 corridor partnership with CSX and a Western Rail Initiative in partnership with Norfolk Southern Railway.

The complex arrangement between Virginia, CSX and Amtrak closed in March. Amtrak is committing $944 million toward the plan and will become the exclusive operator of intercity passenger trains in Virginia for the next 30 years, according to Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam’s office. Amtrak will also add six new state-supported round trips in Virginia during the next 10 years, all of them passing through Richmond before moving on to other parts of the state, more than doubling the number of daily trains to the state capital.

https://www.bizjournals.com/jacksonville/news/2021/05/11/va-deal-for-csx-track-right-of-way.html?utm_source=st&utm_medium=en&utm_campaign=me&utm_content=ja&ana=e_ja_me&j=23807329&senddate=2021-05-11

marcuscnelson

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Re: CSX Sells to Virignia Transforming Rail Initiative
« Reply #5 on: May 11, 2021, 10:44:05 PM »
I think the thing to note is that it isn't Richmond pushing this project, it's the state of Virginia. Florida's government is too focused on chasing away businesses to secure votes from rubes and catering to re-election campaign donors to take on these big infrastructure improvements (unless it's a new highway, because the donors like that).

Even if Jacksonville were to seek progress like this (say, by building the bypass by the airport to reduce downtown freight traffic and using the ROW for commuter rail or LRT) we'd have to get Tallahassee to buy into it. Which isn't necessarily impossible, seeing what's been done in Orlando and Tampa, but definitely not easy, especially at scale. And odds are intercity rail is going to be Brightline's exclusive domain for the most part.

I happen to think that it'd be really nice if instead of spending over $600 million to add lanes to I-95 we just built St. Augustine-Jax commuter rail, especially seeing as there'd likely be leftover money for LRT expansion beyond that. But that's just me.
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WAJAS

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Re: CSX Sells to Virignia Transforming Rail Initiative
« Reply #6 on: May 11, 2021, 11:30:23 PM »
I think the thing to note is that it isn't Richmond pushing this project, it's the state of Virginia. Florida's government is too focused on chasing away businesses to secure votes from rubes and catering to re-election campaign donors to take on these big infrastructure improvements (unless it's a new highway, because the donors like that).

Even if Jacksonville were to seek progress like this (say, by building the bypass by the airport to reduce downtown freight traffic and using the ROW for commuter rail or LRT) we'd have to get Tallahassee to buy into it. Which isn't necessarily impossible, seeing what's been done in Orlando and Tampa, but definitely not easy, especially at scale. And odds are intercity rail is going to be Brightline's exclusive domain for the most part.

I happen to think that it'd be really nice if instead of spending over $600 million to add lanes to I-95 we just built St. Augustine-Jax commuter rail, especially seeing as there'd likely be leftover money for LRT expansion beyond that. But that's just me.
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bl8jaxnative

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Re: CSX Sells to Virignia Transforming Rail Initiative
« Reply #7 on: May 12, 2021, 08:37:15 AM »
I note the irony of this being done with Jax-based CSX who also was responsible for selling NYC its Highline.  CSX is working with states and cities to better their world while at its HQ's town, our leadership has nothing to put on the table for them to consider here.

CSX is better the world.


Florida DOT is better the world.





jaxjags

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Re: CSX Sells to Virignia Transforming Rail Initiative
« Reply #8 on: May 12, 2021, 04:36:45 PM »
FYI - Commuter rail to DC already goes to Fredericksburg. Not sure of the infrastructure being used.

jaxlongtimer

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Re: CSX Sells to Virignia Transforming Rail Initiative
« Reply #9 on: May 12, 2021, 09:43:36 PM »
FYI - Commuter rail to DC already goes to Fredericksburg. Not sure of the infrastructure being used.

Based on the map Marcus posted, it looks like they bought half of the CSX ROW to add additional track dedicated just to this project between DC and Richmond, which would include Fredericksburg.  As such, I gather they are adding capacity and improved service via not sharing track with CSX freight and/or adding more lines.  All the initial phases are on this section and involve laying new tracks.  Apparently, demand must be good for the existing service to encourage these next steps.

Having been stuck in an hours long traffic jam between Richmond and DC on I-95 before, and that was years ago, I can attest to the heavy traffic between the two cities and points in between.  Interestingly, a lot of DC residents travel at least half of this leg during the summer to head to the Virginia Beach area so you don't want to get caught southbound on I-95 on summer Friday PM's or Saturday AM's.  I would think that ultimately, they would want to add a line to the Norfolk/Va. Beach area at some point if they could find a way to make it happen.  Would probably get a lot more traffic than the westbound line through Charlottesville, Univ. of Va. aside  8).

Pottsburg

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Re: CSX Sells to Virignia Transforming Rail Initiative
« Reply #10 on: May 16, 2021, 08:34:55 AM »
I think CSX is also gaining much needed good favor from the state and the federal government with this deal.  I don't think there is to many  similarities between this line and what brightline is doing.  The costs are way different. I would bet without even having to look that there is more crossings from Miami to WPB (first phase Brightline) than on this whole 350 mile route.  There were almost 200 in the first phase of the brightline project which drove costs up significantly.  When you're laying track in rural areas like this part of Virginia (between these small cities) the costs are fractional. To my original point I think this helps them in the future with acquisitions and possibly state DOT issues.  That's just some inside baseball type of doing each other favors.  example; when the railroad wants to update a crossing or signaled area that perhaps could be a trouble area (signaling issues that are slowing down trains or crossing issues where the technology is just old) they submit it to the DOT and the state reviews it.  Then the state gets the money and pays for it, upgrading the railroads technology while costing the railroad almost nothing.  Taxpayers handle it under the "need for safety"   Scratching each others back (just my opinion)
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bl8jaxnative

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Re: CSX Sells to Virignia Transforming Rail Initiative
« Reply #11 on: May 18, 2021, 09:51:31 AM »
Having been stuck in an hours long traffic jam between Richmond and DC on I-95 before, and that was years ago, I can attest to the heavy traffic between the two cities and points in between.  Interestingly, a lot of DC residents travel at least half of this leg during the summer to head to the Virginia Beach area so you don't want to get caught southbound on I-95 on summer Friday PM's or Saturday AM's.  I would think that ultimately, they would want to add a line to the Norfolk/Va. Beach area at some point if they could find a way to make it happen.  Would probably get a lot more traffic than the westbound line through Charlottesville, Univ. of Va. aside  8).

Viriginia does fund Amtrak to run down the Peninsula to Newport News.  In theory they could already be doing that trip that way.

IIRC the closet to Virigina Beach you'd come is Portsmouth + Norfolk on the south side.  IIRC that would involve teaming up with NS to expand capacity on a busy line for them.   And you'd have to get buy in from the ports, too.

It could be done.  I don't think it was in the VA DOTs plans though.