Thanks, everyone, for the great questions. If your specific issue wasn't addressed, please email where we answer all inquiries within one business day.

If you didn't get a chance to donate to our Toys for Tots collection today, feel free to stop by Spotsylvania, Fredricksburg, Woodbridge, Broad Run, Manassas, or Burke Centre while our 21st Anniversary Operation Lifesaver Santa Trains are operating this Saturday to drop off a gift. Santa Trains will take place on Saturday, December 9th and we see that there is some snow in the forecast Friday evening/Saturday morning. We will be sure to communicate any changes that may occur as a result that day. Hopefully it will just make for a picturesque Santa Train day!

Winter is coming and we would like to take this opportunity to remind everyone to be careful stepping on and off trains due to slippery platforms. If inclement weather does occur, we will update riders via Train Talk, facebook, twitter, etc. about any service modifications.

Have a happy holiday season!

Chris, Rich, et al.

  • Big D from WB asks
    How often are tickets supposed to checked? On train 300 I think my ticket is checked about once a month in the morning. Also, when stopped at Crystal City some people board and may be getting a free ride each morning.

    VRE Response
    Thank you for that information. Tickets are supposed to be checked throughout the trip unless there is a job related response that is needed for safe train operation. We will address this with our crews to insure compliance.

  • Raif from Lorton, VA asks
    Not really important but I have to ask, the old green roof at Lorton was replaced with a new silver roof that matches the new platform and the rusty railing base connectors were replaced and painted blue - all of this was for branding I take it?

    VRE Response
    Branding and consistency, Raif.  The colors and the sign package utilized at Lorton will be the same on all our station projects.

  • Dan from Fredericksburg, VA asks
    Specifically referencing last Thursday's evening delay due to a "disabled" CSX train, holding VRE 307 for over an hour. It seems as though CSX has a bit of a "arrogant" attitude towards VRE with a "these are our lines, we do what we want attitude". Just like when a car is holding up the drive thru at McDonald's, they send that car off to the side. We should have been "rerouted" around the train after 5-10 minutes (and by the way, while we were holding, not one northbound train passed us). Is there a contact at CSX we can start voicing our frustrations to? Perhaps they need to feel some of the heat.

    VRE Response
    Brian is here with us today from CSX and he explained in an earlier question about the need for the CSX crews to inspect their train, which restricts traffic on the adjacent track.  CSX works with VRE and Amtrak in incidents like this to minimize the delays and keep the network moving, but sometimes delays will occur.

    Passenger trains are subject to inspections as well, but the length of the freight trains, as well as the commodities being shipped, require certain inspections to ensure no hazards are present, and may require more time, of which safety is the priority.


  • Dennis from Triangle, VA asks
    Will there ever be a Southbound Fredericksburg line train leaving Union station around 2:00pm?

    VRE Response
    Nothing currently planned Dennis, but it is something we will continue to explore.

  • Bill from Woodbridge asks
    Is there a way for the mobile ticket screen to stay on. Conducts enter the car and yell tickets please. Then they proceed to talk to several of there friends (sometimes for minutes on end) and they start checking again the screen has gone black. Yesterday on 305 saw a conductor yell at rider with a mobile ticket they must have the ticket visible at ALL times. Can you explain the process to keep these tickets visible at all times?

    VRE Response
    There is a way to set your phone so it does not go to sleep mode, but it typically drains the battery, so most people do not use the setting.  This is not a setting we can control in the app.

  • JV from Orange, VA asks
    Could you ask your train staff to either quit using or severely tone down the amount of cologne/perfume they use? It really is a problem for me since I have allergic reactions to such products. I can understand using a little bit, not certainly not dousing yourself with a large amount.

    VRE Response
    Thanks for that info. This was addressed with the crews, and we will constantly monitor this to provide a more pleasant trip for you.

  • Peter from Fredericksburg asks
    Can you tell me why tickets are not checked every day, day trains and night trains. I am a monthly ticket holder and cannot understand way they are not checked. The conductors appear not to be busy, unless you count talking to the ladies as a job requirement.

    VRE Response
    We expect the conductors to check tickets in every car on every trip of every train, unless their primary duties of the safe operation of the train require them to be doing something else.  The Keolis Managers will add this to their discussion topics for tomorrow morning.

  • Jesse from Locust Grove, VA asks
    When will the PA systems be fixed or the staff properly trained on how to use them? I have to admit I'm past 60 and don't have the best of hearing, but even other folks around me on the train have both trouble hearing and understanding what is being broadcast. I ride at least four different trains in the morning and six to seven in the evenings, and I have trouble hearing the announcements on almost every train.

    VRE Response
    Thank you for the question Jesse.  The PA system is set at 72dB before leaving the train yard but the train crew is trained to adjust the setting if needed. Let us know which cars you are having a problem with hearing announcements.

  • Richard from Stafford, VA asks
    Not a question but heartfelt requests from a 20+ year VRE rider. Could you please ask your conductors to consistently announce which of the doors will or will not be open at an upcoming stop. I know a number of conductors already to this... but unfortunately not all do and a number of them don't do it consistently each day and for each stop. I know a number of people who almost miss their stop because they have to rush from the door their standing at to another door toward the center of the train that is open. Also, it would be great if the conductor crew could please keep the riders up to date if the train is unusually slow or stopped. Again, not all do this and isn't necessarily consistently done. Thanks bunches and Happy Holidays!

    VRE Response
    Great comment Richard.  The conductors are expected to announce which cars will not make the platform on every train at every station.  The Keolis Managers here with us today have assured us they will address this with the crews.  If you see further issues with this, please drop us a note at with the specific train information and we'll address it with those individuals.

  • Davin Peterson from Woodbridge, VA asks
    Why is then when a CSX train breaks down or emergency mode, they block other trains from passing it? This causes a big delay for VRE when it happens

    VRE Response
    Safety/operating rules require that freight trains be inspected under certain conditions prior to other trains passing on the adjacent track. This ensures that nothing on the freight train presents a hazardous condition to passing passenger, commuter, or other freight trains.


  • Davin from Woodbridge, VA asks
    The first service day of the month is the grace day, but the mobile ticket expired on Nov. 30. Due to technical difficulties on Dec. 1, I had no mobile ticket and had to use an FRC. It's a good thing that I have a few FRC's. The December mobile ticket expires Jan 1, but their is no service on Jan 1.

    VRE Response
    Thanks Davin, we just finished a call with the app developer who is working on adding the grace day back into VRE Mobile.  We'll keep you posted.

  • Matt from Lorton, VA asks
    Why hasn't the new platform at Lorton opened yet? It appears to be finished.

    VRE Response
    We have a few minor details to finish so you should see the new platform opened sometime next week. Stay tuned to TrainTalk for the official announcement.


  • Davin from Woodbridge, VA asks
    Why has VRE not lengthened trains yet? I see cars V840-V844 on Fredericksburg trains. The consist page says VRE has 100 cars, but only 87 cars in service. So, why is VRE keeping 13 cars of out service instead of using them to lengthen trains?

    VRE Response
    Davin, trains will be lengthened when we begin utilizing the additional storage tracks near the L'Enfant station.  Right now, there is not enough room in our current storage facility to accommodate the longer trains.  We'll send out notifications when we have a set implementation date.

  • Mike from Spotsylvania asks
    When the morning train leaves Spotsylvania, the horn sounds a minute or two before departure. Is this set to a specific time? It would be good to know if it's a "one minute warning.@. Thanks.

    VRE Response
    When the crews are able to get the train down to the station a little early, they will give a warning, usually two-minutes, with the horn so passengers can head to the platform in time to board.

  • Arthur from Burke asks
    Did we miss our annual (oak) leave oil fiasco on the NB Manassas line this Fall?

    VRE Response
    Great question Arthur.  Looks like we made it through leaf oil season this year with no major issues.  The combination of light rain/mist with fallen leaves which normally presents challenges did not materialize.



  • Candy from Spotsy, Va asks
    There are courtesy reminders for folks to be considerate of the cologne they use on the train. Would it be possible for the conductors to be mindful of this as well. There are two conductors that you can smell coming before they get to you.

    VRE Response
    Thanks Candy, the Keolis train crew supervisors are here and will address with the conductors.


  • Kathleen from Lorton, VA asks
    Do we have a new date for the opening of the platform extension in Lorton? ("November" has come and gone.)

    VRE Response
    The opening of the Lorton platform extension is imminent.  We did a walkthrough yesterday and have just a few punchlist items to take care of.  Stay tuned to Train Talk for the announcement.

  • Cindy from Fredericksburg, VA asks
    This morning in honor of Toys for Tots, Walker (Conductor on 312) gracious and very timely serenaded us with a few Christmas carols and he's pretty good!

    VRE Response
    Thanks Cindy, Someone sent us a video.  Maybe American Idol is next...

  • David from Fredericksburg asks
    Have you quit enforcing the standing means detraining rule? It seemed to be working for a while but not any longer, at least at the Crystal City stop on the first train in the am. I suggest a better rule would be for no on be allowed to start lining up for the next stop until the train leaves the previous station.

    VRE Response
    David, we do ask passengers to "please remain seated until the train has departed the station prior to your destination".  Unfortunately, that does not address the acceptable option some passengers choose, which is to stand.  To address the passengers who stand, we ask them to detrain at each station, simply to make sure anyone who wishes to detrain may do so, and does not have to step over and around folks in the aisles and vestibules.  Once everyone is off, those passengers wishing to continue on to the next station may reboard.  As mentioned above, the enforcement of the rule is the challenge with fewer conductors than doors.


  • Dave from Woodbridge, Va asks
    In the future could the 300 Express schedule be adjusted so that train could leave Spotsy 10-15 minutes sooner?

    VRE Response
    Sorry Dave, no plans to have 300 depart Spotsylvania any earlier.


  • Joe from Woodbridge, VA asks
    Following the CSX signal installation at L'Enfant, getting off the train is a daily 10 minute process. Is there really no other solution than the added delay because the train is forced to stop short of the platform? It creates added congestion and standing-room only scenarios in cars where the doors open. The queing policy does not appear to work as overcrowding increases.

    VRE Response
    The train has to stop short of the signal, which leaves an additional car off the platform.  This will be the new normal, so we will continue to look for ways to assist in the incremental time for detraining.

  • Lee from Burke asks
    I'm wondering why Amtrak personnel watch us on the platform in the mornings. They don't seem to be there to help with issues -- they don't help passengers to know that they should stand on the left on the escalator, they don't help with large suitcases, etc. They just stand there, and usually scowl. What is their purpose? I can only imagine that it is to stop us from stealing the silver.

    VRE Response
    Thanks Lee, Kim, the Amtrak Station Manager who is responsible for our service is here and will be sure to address the issue.


  • Michael from Lorton, VA asks
    Recently train to L'Enfant has not had the end door make the platform. This has required a walk through several cars to exit. Even though stopped, with many people dis-boarding, the doors between cars are continually closing. I have been caught in the middle, doors closing very hard on me, multiple times. Why can't this be disabled when the car in stopped in the station.

    VRE Response
    Doors staying open is not a feature of our cars. We suggest getting into the practice of pushing your hand against the door when walking through.

  • Amanda from Manassas asks
    Over the weekend I saw your Toys For Tots Facebook announcement about this morning's collection. I brought my toys this morning, but it looked like there were less toys left on the train as I departed than normal (I did see people give money when the conductor came through). In past years we got text message reminders and in the days leading up to the collection the conductors made announcements on the train. As I got off the train last night I wanted to make sure today was the collection day and asked a conductor, he as well as the other conductors weren't sure if today was the collection day or not. In future years can this be more publicized or at least ensure the conductors know about it in advance?

    VRE Response
    Thanks for the feedback Amanda.  We handled the communications similar to past years, but will make a note to follow-up with more consistent efforts onboard the trains in the week before the collection.


  • Debbie O. from Broad Run, VA asks
    No offense VRE, but your Customer Service skills could use some work. I wrote VRE an email on Nov. 9th regarding some of your conductors that proceed to stand across from the train doors as riders are exiting the end of the train where a stool is required at L'Enfant instead of helping riders to depart the train that may have trouble or to help with their bags and I never received a response. Then you say that passengers should not be queing up in the aisles of the train while stopped at a station to get off at the next station, but when we were stopped at the L'Enfant station yesterday morning and I made a comment to all those people standing there waiting to get off at Union Station the female conductor on the 326 train just said to me to have a good day. Basically the heck with the fact that passengers were disobeying VRE's rules. What if someone had to get off at that stop and they were held up by all those people waiting for Union Station. Its sad that your Customer Service skills and the ability to care have gone. Good Day.

    VRE Response
    Thanks for the follow-up Debbie.  We followed up with staff who handle the GoTrains emails.  You should have received a response letting you know we were addressing your concerns with the Keolis managers so they could follow-up with the crews.  We apologize if that response did not go out.  We addressed the ongoing challenges with queueing in an earlier response.

    It was good to see in your email you mentioned a specific conductor who was very good at assisting passengers on and off the train.  It is that level of service we expect from the conductors.  The conductors are more than happy to assist when the assistance is requested, but we agree being more proactive in their efforts would be preferable.

  • Scott from Fairfax, VA asks
    In the evening I depart from the L 'Enfant station and am quite concerning about overcrowding on the platform and the possibility that someone may get pushed onto the tracks simply by this overcrowding. What is VRE doing to mitigatge this dangerous situation?

    VRE Response
    Thanks for the question Scott.  We have a few concepts we are reviewing to utilize the space behind the back edge of the existing platform.  We will keep you posted as we get an estimated schedule for the project.



  • Dale from Fredericksburg VA asks
    What good is that sign "Standing means Detraining", if the conductors will not enforce people queuing so early that it prevents others from getting off at their stop. Express train, in the morning, passengers that get off at L'enFant start getting out of their seats after Alexandria, and at least 2 to 3 passengers that exit at Crystal City have to navigate around these rude people. They actually laugh about it while we try to get past them. The conductors are already on the platform and cannot see this.

    VRE Response
    Thanks for the comment Dale, and we appreciate your frustration. The Standing Means Detraining campaign is an effort to keep issues like this from happening.  Unfortunately, with a 7 car train and only 3 conductors, enforcing the rules in every car is a challenge.  As with other courtesy issues, we have to rely on passengers taking some personal responsibility for their actions.  We'll keep working on ways to step up enforcement and ask passengers to please be considerate to everyone else.

  • Pamela from Fredericksburg asks
    The conductors have made announcements about people placing their bags and other items in the vacant seats next to them. My question is: What's the problem with that? I could see it being an issue when the trains are crowded, but when you only have six people in a car and the remaining seats are empty, what's the harm in placing a bag or jacket in the adjoining seat? You people are getting ridiculous with all of these nonsensical rules. Why don't you pay attention to getting us to our location safely; on time; and, quit with the foolish rules.

    VRE Response

    We will continue to ask everyone to not place their bags or personal items on adjacent seats.  It removes the subjectivity of when it is or is not too crowded to allow the behavior.  The rules are for consistency and making sure seats are made available to anyone who wants to sit.

Welcome to another edition of the VRE Online Forum where VRE Senior Operations Management, Rich Dalton, Deputy Chief Executive Officer and Chief Operating Officer and Chris Henry, Director of Rail Operations, answer as many service related questions for the next hour. Also in the studio with us today are management from Keolis - our operations and maintenance contractor, as well as CSX and Amtrak, two of our host railroads we operate on. Feel free to direct any questions to them.

Thanks to all the genrerous riders who donated to our onboard Toys for Tots drive this morning. We are still tallying up the totals but we are certain we had another banner year. It makes us proud that our riders make VRE one of the top contributors to the Totys for Tots campaign in the area. It really puts us in the holiday spirit!

With that said, on to the questions!