Recent Blog Posts
Still not a member of VRE’s Train Talk news service? Why not? It only takes a couple of minutes to join.
To register, visit us here (https://public.govdelivery.com/accounts/VAVRE/subscriber/new). The program takes you through a series of steps so that you can customize your account and only receive alerts that are important to you. Once registration is complete, you will receive the latest information on schedule changes, service disruptions, seat notices and other news via email and phone.
There are two types of Train Talk messages: urgent service-related messages and newsletter-type information. The service messages can be sent so that you can receive longer messages through email or shorter versions on your cell phone. The newsletter is only sent in a long format.
When editing your account information, make sure you also tell the program which email address or phone number should receive the message and when. In the previous step, you created your contact information, but now, we need to know which one should get which messages.
Finally, the preference page allows you to choose some other important features. Would you like to know when an elevator is out of service? Choose the appropriate email address under the elevator notification.
Still confused? Feel free to contact VRE for assistance with signing on or troubleshooting at (703) 684-1001.
- The Many Ways VRE Communicates with Passengers - Infographic
- September 2, 2016
- VRE and Security
- September 1, 2016
VRE's security strategy takes a system wide approach and considers the following as our security assets: passengers, train crews, VRE staff, law enforcement partners, host railroads, special programs and community. All of these facets combine to create one community dedicated to the safety of VRE as a rail system.
Passengers At VRE, our top priority is your safety. This is an issue we take very seriously and we take every step we can to make your commute safe. However, as with everything, in life there are things that you, as a passenger, can and should do to keep one's self out of harm's way.
On an average weekday there are about 20,000 passenger trips on VRE. This means 20,000 pairs of eyes. VRE reminds our passengers to contact a VRE conductor if they notice:
- Unattended packages
- Suspicious behavior
- People in bulky, seasonally inappropriate clothing
- Exposed wiring or other irregularities on luggage
- Anyone tampering with surveillance cameras or entering unauthorized areas
- Trust your INSTINCTS — If SOMETHING DOES NOT SEEM RIGHT — Alert a VRE Conductor!
If you see a practice that you feel may be unsafe, please report it to your conductor or to VRE. All safety and security concerns are sent directly to our Manager of Safety and Security.
You're our eyes and ears and we want to know what you see!
VRE Conductors and Engineers operate across our tracks in virtually the same manner every day. Their ability to memorize the territory is paramount to our operational success as well as safety. Our crews are experienced rail veterans who are well versed in knowing how the railroad runs and how a safe railroad should appear. In addition to this experience, they are regularly trained and briefed on various security awareness practices, and are continuously kept informed of possible safety and security concerns based on incidents that may have occurred in or outside the US.
In addition, our crews are trained on appropriate responses to daily incidents such a medical emergencies and situations requiring non-medical intervention. They are also heavily trained in large scale incidents that could adversely impact other passengers and trains, such as fires, explosions and derailments.
In order to reinforce these safety practices VRE's train crews receive AED/CPR training and participate in an annual full scale emergency simulation that is conducted by VRE.
VRE's staff possess multifaceted knowledge of the stations, communications and parking facilities across the system.
Detailed routine inspections and consultations with regional law enforcement and federal agencies assist us in staying informed of any security concerns that might affect us — either at our offices, rail yards, stations or on our trains.
VRE staff are in constant contact with various governing agencies, enforcement personnel and other organizations to keep our passengers safe.
In addition, to better handle security issues if they arise, members of VRE staff conduct and participate annually in full scale emergency simulations.
All staff are AED and CPR trained.
Law Enforcement Partners
VRE does not have its own police personnel. However, we are fully supported by law enforcement partners from all levels of government throughout the VRE service region as well as through full cooperation from official railroad police forces employed by Norfolk Southern, CSXT and Amtrak.
Local and federal law enforcement officers, in conjunction with the Visual Intermodal Prevention and Response (VIPR) team, conduct joint security exercises on board VRE trains and at VRE stations throughout the year.
This allows law enforcement agencies to gain familiarity with our system and maintain a security presence.
VRE also gathers crime data from local law enforcement agencies so that passengers can be kept up to date on recommended practices for staying safe while at our stations and at nearby parking lots.
In addition, VRE offers in-depth system familiarization training to local first responders. Local police patrol VRE properties located within their respective jurisdictions and VRE also offers in depth system familiarization to federal agencies such as the Customs and Border Patrol Canine Teams.
As a further measure of preparedness and cooperation, VRE invites local, state and federal law enforcement partners to participate in our annual full scale emergency simulations conducted by VRE. Here, members of the previously mentioned authorities can gain complete familiarity with the environment in which we operate, the rail equipment's emergency access and evacuation features and a variety of other situations that responders may face that are unique to passenger rail.
VRE works closely with our host railroads and their law enforcement units to increase security of VRE operations.
As a facet in the National Capitol Region's transportation system, we aggressively share security, safety and service related information with our host railroad systems and invite them to participate in our full scale emergency simulations that we conduct each year.
VRE currently has 100 non-uniformed law enforcement officers in its Undercover LEO program.
These sworn officers are regular VRE riders and are represented on all VRE trains. In addition to carrying the official capacity to make arrests at any locality within the VRE system, they travel armed and are available to assist VRE Train Crews in the event of a possible emergency or felony taking place on board our trains.
VRE also contracts armed private security guards for our rail yards located at Crossroads and Broad Run. These guards provide asset protection and access control, as well as maintain perimeter security throughout the day and night. They also assist local and regional law enforcement.
A network of visible, as well as concealed, closed circuit television cameras (CCTV) at select stations and other locations throughout the VRE system have proven invaluable to VRE, law enforcement and our host railroad companies at assisting passengers, deterring criminal acts as well as providing clear witness to activities occurring through the VRE system. Given our great success with the CCTV program, we will continue to expand this camera network as additional funding becomes available.
Community security, especially those that surround VRE, is very important to us.
We maintain strict standards for passenger and parking facilities which ensure they are well-lit, properly monitored, maintained, and patrolled.
As VRE changes and grows we continue to seek input from these communities to ensure that VRE's expansion plans never compromise their safety.
- VRE's Ticket Exchange Policy
- August 16, 2016
Ten-Trip, Five-Day, Round-Trip, Step-Up and Single-Ride Tickets are non-refundable. However, in some cases, we can make exchanges.
Amtrak Step-Up tickets (valid or expired) CANNOT be exchanged.
All tickets expire one year from the date of purchase. Once a ticket expires, it CANNOT be exchanged (this includes Free Ride Certificates).
Non-expired tickets will be considered for an exchange on a case by case basis. No refunds will be given for exchanges that result in a lower priced ticket.
Tickets can only be exchanged one time. All new tickets from an exchange must be used within one year. Those tickets that have been exchanged CANNOT be exchanged again.
Please include the Ticket Exchange Form along with your exchange request.
* Tickets purchased through the mobile app cannot be exchanged.
- VRE Onboard Bicycle Policy
- July 21, 2016
Bicycles are sometimes a point of contention onboard our trains. On one hand some think that we don't allow enough bicycles. Unfortunately, due to heavy crowding there is simply no room at this time to provide enough space for full sized bicycles on most of our trains. If you are adamant that VRE provide more bike space, then consider buying yourself a collapsible bike, because collapsible bikes are permitted on all cars.
Then, on the other hand, some think that we shouldn't allow any bicycles onboard period. However, we are supportive of alternative and environmentally friendly transportation options, as well as the benefits of better health, less pollutants and less congestion that have been touted as people increase bicycle use. For VRE's benefit, the more people who bike to the station, the less congestion on the way to and from the station and more automobile parking for other passengers.
Between the two schools of thought we decided to compromise and allow some bicycles on our least crowded trains. On these particular trains, riders need to keep in mind that half of the priority seating area is reserved for bicycles. If a non-bicyclist chooses to sit in this area, they risk being asked to move to another open seat should this area need to be utilized.
Our bicycle policy follows below:
Collapsible bicycles are permitted on all cars, on all trains. These bicycles must be completely folded and safely stored in overhead luggage racks, under seats or in some other place that is not an inconvenience to other passengers.
Full size bicycles will only be allowed on the last three northbound, the mid-day, any reverse-flow, and the last three southbound trains on each line. Specifically, these are trains are:
Northbound 310, 312, 314
Southbound 301, 311, 313, 315
Northbound 328, 330, 332, 336, 338
Southbound 321, 325, 333, 335, 337
- Full size bicycles must board at the northern-most car on the train and use the southern half of the car.
- No more than two (2) full size bicycles are allowed on the car. If the car already has two bicycles, you cannot bring your bicycle on the train and must wait for the next one.
- Full size bicycles must be tethered to the bench seats using a bungee cord attached to the eyelet on the seat frame. The south end bench is distinguishable by only having four (4) folding seats. Bicyclists will be responsible for securing their bicycle.
- The bench seating on the north end of the car is priority seating for passengers with disabilities. This area is located directly across from the restroom and cannot be used for bicycles.
- If the bench seating for full size bicycles is occupied by passengers, the bicycle rider may ask the passenger to vacate the seat or ask the conductor for assistance if the passenger is unwilling to move. The priority will be for the bicycles.
- For the safety and convenience of our other riders, bicycles will be boarded and removed last after all other passengers have boarded or detrained.
- Passengers are not permitted to ride any bicycle on the platforms or trains.
- All bicycles must be clean and free of grease.
- VRE will not be responsible for the security of bicycles brought on board.
- Common Courtesy - Sometimes We All Need Reminders
- July 15, 2016
Courtesy Towards Vendors
We would just like to remind our passengers who use ticket vendors to exercise courtesy and patience as you purchase your tickets.
The vendors do not actually work for VRE. They are, for the most part, small businesses that have agreed to sell our tickets just as they may have agreed to sell Coke or Pepsi products.
Be sure to keep this in mind when asking them VRE questions. They may know some answers but do not expect them to have all the answers, especially keep this in mind if you have a problem with VRE (late trains, TVMs not working). Please yell at us (email@example.com, or (703) 684-1001) and not at them. We might be able to do something about it. Finally, please do not push your way through their lines because you showed up late for your train. Their customers deserve courtesy too.
Pay Attention to Your Surroundings
If you carry a purse, a backpack, a jacket or anything with a strap onto the train, then this message is for you.
Since most people don’t enjoy being struck by someone else’s belongings, please pay attention to both your possessions and to the people around you.
As aisles are narrow, it is best to walk down them with your belongings in front of you, so that they don’t bang the heads or shoulders of your fellow passengers as you go past.
Likewise, if you need to put on a jacket, it would be better to do so after you have detrained, so as not to drape it across the face of someone else.
Scratched and Dinged Vehicles
This courtesy reminder is on behalf of scratched and dinged vehicles in VRE parking lots.
These scratched and dinged vehicles would like to ask people to please be gentle with them as they do not like to be scratched, nor do they like to be dinged.
Please be careful when opening your vehicle doors adjacent to another car. Likewise, when walking in between two cars, please make sure that your belongings do not bang or rub alongside either of the vehicles.
They would like to remind folks that they are somebody’s vehicle…not somebody’s counter top. So, place do not place your belongings upon them unless you’re the one who purchased them.
By being mindful of your surroundings, all our cars can keep their current shine.
Taking up Space
Commuting isn’t always the highlight in one’s life, but at least in doing so one should be able to sit, relax and rest. If you bring stuff with you, keep it with you. Put it under your seat or in the overhead racks. Don’t take up another person’s space. We all work hard and we all deserve our rest whenever we can get it.
As you gather your belongings to detrain, please remember that trash receptacles are available for your newspapers, empty water bottles, empty coffee cups, and/or any other “stuff” you no longer need.
Of course, if you are more environmentally minded, newspaper recycling bins are located at most of our stations!
Many of our train sets provide service more than once during the rush hours. Since the time between runs is so short, we are not able to perform a trash sweep in between.
To make the train an enjoyable experience for everyone, we need your help. Take your belongings with you and if you don’t want to keep something, just throw it away. Thank you got helping to keep our trains clean.
The Quiet Car
As most of you already know, passengers ride in the Quiet Car to take advantage of an atmosphere of peace and placidity. Cell phones are not allowed and any talk that must occur should be in whispers.
We want to take this opportunity to remind riders of another courtesy, one of civility rather than hostility. The Quiet Car should be thought of by passengers more in terms of a library rather than in terms of absolute silence. Should you be in the Quiet Car and encounter a fellow rider who may be talking too loudly, politely remind them that they are in the Quiet Car and kindly ask them to keep noise to a minimum.
While we encourage riders to “police” the Quiet Cars, extreme behavior by anyone is unacceptable. Remember, the Quiet Car exists as a courtesy and we don’t want that courtesy abused.
- Mobile Tickets
- July 14, 2016
VRE was the first transit system in the greater Washington, D.C. area to offer a mobile app that allows customers to pay their fares and skip a Ticket Vending Machine (TVM) altogether, allowing for greater flexibility and convenience for riders.
VRE Mobile, a free download at the iTunes App store and Google Play, allows VRE customers the ability to map out their trips and purchase whatever ticket option works for them, whether they need a monthly pass or a ticket for a single ride. Utilizing the tool allows VRE customers to purchase tickets at their own convenience and save time by completely bypassing station TVM’s. The app gives users the option to use two different payment options, such as splitting the cost between two different cards, and can use a riders’ SmartBenefits.
Aside from ticket purchase, VRE Mobile comes in handy when it comes time to validate a ticket. Validating a ticket, the process of applying the value of one ride from a ticket to that current trip on a train, is mandatory before starting a trip. When in a rush to catch a train, it can be difficult to stop at a machine to validate that ticket. Failure to do so, however, could result in a summons to court and a hefty fine. With VRE Mobile, riders can validate right on their Smartphone, bypassing the TVM altogether. Riders who buy and validate tickets via VRE Mobile then need only show the conductor their phone upon ticket check.
Learn more about VRE Mobile and all you can do with the app at http://www.vre.org/service/vre-mobile/.
- Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About VRE Step-Up Tickets
- June 20, 2016
A step-up ticket is a ticket that VRE riders can purchase (in conjunction with a TLC Ticket, Monthly Ticket, Five Day Pass or Ten-Trip ticket) that allows one the ability to ride a designated Amtrak train.
Step-Up tickets are valid one year from the date of purchase and are not refundable or cannot be exchanged once expired.
Amtrak charges VRE $13 for every step-up ticket collected on their trains. The current cost of an Amtrak step-up ticket for riders is $8.00. VRE subsidizes the last $5 to help reduce crowding on some of our trains by allowing riders to take an Amtrak train instead.
If any of the following Amtrak train numbers are operating: 66,67, 83, 85, 86, 84, 87, 93, 94, 95, 125, 171, 174, 176, Monday through Friday, even on a weekday holiday when VRE is not running, an Amtrak step-up ticket with a properly zoned VRE Monthly, 5 day pass or 10 ride ticket, will be accepted by Amtrak for travel on that train.
Amtrak numbered trains that are different from any of the above are not considered cross honor trains and cannot be ridden by a VRE passenger with a VRE ticket or step-up. These trains can only be ridden with an Amtrak ticket.
If you do not have a Step-Up ticket accompanied by a valid VRE ticket and you board an Amtrak train, you will be asked to pay the standard rate for an Amtrak ticket to your destination.
Step-Up tickets can only be used in our service area. From points beyond our service area, you would need a separate Amtrak ticket.
Step-Up tickets may be purchased on the platform at one of the ticket vending machines with a credit or debit card only, or, these tickets may be purchased in bulk from one of our vendors. Please visit our vendor page for the vendor closest to you.
Before boarding the Amtrak train, validate your multi-fare card (if needed) and present your tickets to the conductor (the Step-Up ticket does not need to be validated). The conductor will then collect your Step-Up ticket and you will keep your VRE ticket.
NOTE: SINGLE FARE TICKETS MAY NOT BE USED WITH A STEP-UP TICKET TO BOARD ANY AMTRAK TRAINS.
VRE is not responsible for the on time performance of Amtrak trains.
- New Rider Information
- June 7, 2016
Our new rider's guide can be found on our website at http://www.vre.org/service/rider. New Rider information covers:
- The Benefits of VRE - Infographic
- March 11, 2016
- Understanding the Need for Heat Restrictions
- March 10, 2016
During summer riders may experience heat restrictions on the Fredericksburg Line from 1-7 p.m. For the uninitiated, heat related delays accumulate over the course of the trip so the farther you go, the longer the delay will be.
If your destination is Franconia-Springfield, you will likely not notice the two minute delay. However, if you travel all the way to Fredericksburg, the delay will be approximately eleven minutes. The train crews will do everything they can to make up time along the way to minimize any delays. Just as automobiles are sometimes requested to lower speeds for various road and weather conditions, trains are subject to similar restrictions. Heat restrictions are orders given to railroad engineers to reduce their speed over a given section of track.
Steel rails slowly expand and contract as temperatures rise and fall. With a substantial change in temperature, even in early March, there can be heat restrictions. Careful engineering measures are taken when rail is installed to account for rail expansion and contraction. The ties, rock ballast, and rail anchors, which hold the rail longitudinally, must be strong enough to keep the rail solidly in place instead of expanding or contracting. Under extreme heat, the rail, on rare occasions, will experience a "sun kink", which causes the track to shift laterally causing a curve in the track.
When a "kink" or high tension is found in the track, the track is taken out of service, repaired, and then put back in service. That is why there are times that we are limited to one track during the summer as repairs are made.