Navigation

November

Thanks for all the great questions. If your issue wasn't addressed, feel free to send us an email to GoTrains@vre.org, where we answer all inquiries within one business day.

Election Day is next Tuesday so we know a lot of riders will leave early and will adjust the train lengths based on historical ridership data. We will do the same on Thursday, November 9th since Veterans' Day makes a long weekend for a lot of you. As a reminder, VRE will not operate service on Friday, November 10th in observance of Veterans' Day. Amtrak will operate normal weekday service so that means the Amtrak Cross Honor Trains will be available for VRE riders to use with a multi-day ticket and an Amtrak Step-Up ticket. The last holiday of the month is Thanksgiving and we will not operate service on November 23rd and will operate an "S" Schedule on Friday, November 24th. Only trains marked with an "S" near its train number will operate.

Safety tip for the month - November marks the beginning of a busy holiday season. Be sure to remain vigilant in your attention to your surroundings.

Until next time!

See tracks, think trains.

Rich, Chris, et al.

  • Lora from Manassas asks
    Not a question but an observation, for about a month now, train 331 has had a significant gnat problem in the very last car...

    VRE Response
    We will look into this.

  • Robin from Broad Run asks
    Responding to your 'lower than usual' day after Thanksgiving comment...it is NOT a holiday and neither is the week between xmas and NYE. We are packed to the gills during the last week of the year; AND you cancel the wrong train in the evenings making us have to wait twice as long...so not only are we late 30 minutes in the am...but have to wait extra in the evening. WHILE you may not wish to run a full schedule PLEASE consider cancelling the 2nd train and NOT the first train in the am?

    VRE Response
    You are correct, they are not holidays but we choose to run reduced schedules those days based on the ridership. Even though we run reduced schedules we do operate the longest trains on those days in an attempt to accommodate. Once we publish a reduced schedule, we do not deviate from it in order to minimize confusion. However we will consider making a permanent change to the reduced schedule based on demand.

  • Mike E from Alexandria Va asks
    VRE has a large number of Federal Govt riders. However, those of us who are not Federal employees and use VRE and pay for tickets are locked out and forced to use alternate transportation on Federal Holidays. Has there been any discussion to open the Metro option for the Non- Govt riders on Federal Holidays that VRE doesn't operate? It would soften our commuting expense and keep more cars off of area roads!

    VRE Response
    Thank you for the suggestion and we will take it under consideration with WMATA.

  • Ion from Alexandria (Franconia-Springfield), VA asks
    I read with great interest your system plan 2040. I would really like to see some of the system expansion plans discussed in the plan. Can you speak a little about progress towards some of that, such as the ability to have more trains during the day northbound in the morning and southbound in the afternoon and later in the evening, pending renegotiation. I think you will find that there is a demand for it, as the consultancy company had found in its analysis in the System Plan.

    VRE Response
    Great question, Lon. Since you have reviewed the System Plan 2040, you might find the link to our website providing updates for projects useful.

    https://www.vre.org/development/

  • Dave from 300 Express asks
    Any chance in the future the 300 Express could depart 10-15 minutes earlier in the morning? It would make sense seeing that the 302 is only 10 minutes or so behind it.

    VRE Response
    We have no current plans to move train 300 to an earlier departure time. We will keep this in mind. 

  • George from Broad Run asks
    Any plans to have a COOP plan in advance of VRE train outages/service events?

    VRE Response
    VRE does have a continuity plan, but even that plan has had to be developed to accept a few limiting factors; such as equipment availability, the condition of surrounding transportation networks (roads/Metro,etc) and ultimately, the use/condition/availability of the railroad tracks.

  • Davin from Woodbridge, VA asks
    3 hours was way to long to wait for CSX to clear the tracks the night of the track fire. The inspector took to long to get to the scene, couldn't he find another way? This happened summer last year and didn't take as long. Too bad VRE can't provide buses or taxi. Here's an idea - Could VRE get a train from Fredericksurg to Franconia/Springfield to pick up passengers at the Metro?

    VRE Response
    Each service disruption is different and this one was no exception. Due to traffic congestion on the roads that Friday evening, the inspectors could not get to the Long Bridge in a timely manner. A track and a bridge inspector had to assess the structures and then watch the bridge after trains resumed to assure that the air from the passing trains did not reignite the fire. The network already had northbound trains in que therefore reversing a train back from Fredericksburg was not an option for us at this time. Buses were not available due to this being the peak of the commute window; and if they were, they were poised to be in the same predicament the inspectors were....stuck in traffic. 

  • Dave from Woodbridge, VA asks
    At Lorton, on Train #309, some conductors will open car #6 (car in front of cab car) and others won't. I thought the project would have been done a month ago. It took a long time to finish.

    VRE Response
    The current Lorton project should be completed by the end of November 2017.

  • Cathy from Woodbridge, Virginia asks
    As a passenger who has been riding VRE for 16 years, I really enjoy the convenience! Thank you for the refurbished elevator at the Rippon VRE station. Unfortunately, due to the years of growth in VRE riders, one elevator is no longer sufficient. The majority of riders take the 4 flights of stairs to not have to wait for the elevator. The refurbished elevator is just as slow or seemingly slower than the original one. As far as I am aware, most of VRE riders are middle aged and may not be able to take 4 flights of stairs over the next several years. Some riders have medial issues that prevent them from taking an excessive number of stairs. Does VRE have plans to create another elevator at the station or perhaps an escalator?

    VRE Response
    Thank you for loyal patronage, Cathy. We understand your concerns, unfortunately, we do not have plans to add another elevator at the Rippon Station at this time, but will keep your suggestion on file when we look at station improvements for Rippon.

  • Davin from Woodbridge, VA asks
    Courtesy: Please do not hold the inside doors open when someone opens the door because it lets the cold air into the passenger compartment. Just let the door close. It does not to stay open while the train is still moving into the station.

    VRE Response
    Thanks Davin.

  • Dave from Woodbridge, VA asks
    When will VRE start using the L'Enfant Plaza storage tracks?

    VRE Response
    VRE should be using the L'Enfant Storage tracks by the end of the calendar year.

  • Concerned from WB asks
    New month, same offenders. Each day before 5pm the same people are crossing rt.1 to Occoquan Rd in the right lane. This is not allowed until after 5pm each day. It causes a back up for those trying to make a right hand turn and causes some close calls with other drivers who are crossing legally. Please inform PW County Police so they can monitor.

    VRE Response
    VRE's primary responsibility is to ensure the safest possible conditions for facilities and systems that we control. This issue is occurring on a civil roadway, well beyond the limits of our station. We do pass these concerns to the local police, second hand. We always ask those in the communities along our routes to support our public safety efforts by directly communicating concerns and other observations to the local police.

  • New Resident from Dumfries, VA asks
    Is there a new estimated date for when the Potomac Shores station will open. The article linked in the FAQs is from January 2017 and it just states 2018. Is there an estimate on whether it will be early or late 2018?

    VRE Response
    We do not have an estimated opening date for the Potomac Shores Station.

  • Puneet from Gainesville, VA asks
    Can I use the Smart Trip Metro card to purchase VRE tickets or passes?

    VRE Response
    Not directly.  If you have SmartBenefits on your SmarTrip card, you must re-route your funds by allocating to VRE through one of our vendor locations or VRE Mobile. If the funds are on the SmarTrip card, VRE has no means to access the funds to sell you a VRE ticket.  Give us a call at 703-684-1001 and someone can assist.

  • David from Woodbridge asks
    Would it be possible to ask riders to wait until they step off the train before they put their back packs on? Many people put them on prior and while cueing and tend to bump into others when moving around and don't even say excuse me.

    VRE Response
    We'll get the word out again, and ask the conductors to do the same.

  • Holiday Schedule from Woodbridge, Va asks
    Will VRE run a S schedule or regular schedule for the week between Christmas and New Years? Over the past few years the trains seem to be packed when you run the S schedule for that week.

    VRE Response
    We will run the "S" schedule that week, but we will operate the longest trains to make sure we have adequate capacity.

  • Mark from Spotsylvania asks
    There's a gentleman who rides in the south (front) half of the last car on train 311. He has a cellphone ringtone that is piercing and is set so loud that it breaks up. He is good for 2-3 calls every evening. I could just move to another car but this one is most convenient for me, both where I board and where I get off. Should I ask a conductor to request he turn down the volume or change the ringtone, speak to him myself and politely request that he do so, or move to another car? I can hear it through headphones, which I,be tried. Thanks.

    VRE Response
    There is no problem simply asking him to turn it down.  If you are not comfortable doing so, a conductor will be happy to assist.

  • Pamela from Fredericksburg asks
    On Thursday (10/26) A lady sitting in the quiet car realized when we got to Franconia Springfield that it was her stop. The problem was the train was pulling away. She ran up to Walter (305) to alert him and he radioed to stop the train. He had the lady follow him through the cars and opened the door of the car closest to the platform. I have been riding the VRE for over 12 years and between my husband and I, we have given numerous rides to people who managed to have the doors closed on them - missing their stop. Not once has a conductor stopped the train or assisted the person who missed their stop. Is this a newly enacted approval by management or, do the Conductors make the decisions on who they'll stop the train for? I've already submitted this to gotrains and I'm still waiting for an answer.

    VRE Response
    It is at the conductors discretion to bring the train to a stop depending on whether part of the train is still on the platform and it is safe to do so.

  • Robin from Manassas VA asks
    When will we ever get validation points at the entry points of the trains? I use the mobile app and thus I have to stay awake to keep it 'active' so the conductors can look at it. If I had a paper ticket, I could just snooze...

    VRE Response
    Sorry for the inconvenience Robin.  We are unable to check mobile tickets unless the app is open.  We are waiting for technology to catch up with idea of checking tickets without it being displayed.

  • Bill from Burke asks
    We are several months in, and still not one bit of enforcement of the "standing equals detraining" policy on train 329, at least in the 3rd car from the south end. It continues to be a big problem with Burke Centre riders standing before we even arrive at Rolling Rd. Curiously, I noticed vigorous enforcement of the new "no standing in the stairwell" policy. Why the discrepancy?

    VRE Response
    Thanks for the feedback Bill.  Gerald will share this with the other Transportation Managers and address with the appropriate train crews.

  • Elaine from Lorton VA asks
    Why is the conductor so loud and bothersome on the morning and e evening train that I ride, I think his name is Dave

    VRE Response
    Conductors are required to make announcements and be available to answer questions.  If there is anything beyond those tasks which concerns you, please let us know at GoTrains@vre.org.

  • Marie from Manassas, VA asks
    Halloween may be in the past, but the vampire sneeze/cough will always be in style! One of the main ways that respiratory illnesses like the common cold and flu are spread is through coughing and sneezing. Using a tissue to cover our nose and mouth when coughing or sneezing and washing our hands, is the first choice, but the vampire sneeze/cough is a viable alternative. Lately the train has sounded like the a plague train. Coughing, sniffing, sneezing. Remember, not using a tissue or handkerchief means everything a person touches after swiping their nose or covering their mouth, is a germ carrier to be passed on to the next person. Not looking forward to winter colds? Then don't recycle germs. do everyone a favor and carry tissues or a handkerchief & use the vampire sneeze/cough!

    VRE Response
    Another great courtesy reminder.  Thanks Marie.

  • Richard from Bristow, VA asks
    At Broad Run there is one entryway to the train platform. Almost every morning when train 324 pulls up so does an SUV that sits there for minutes, all the while blocking the entry to the platform forcing people to walk around it and inhale its exhaust. This is truly bad behavior when the SUV could easily pull up and remove itself away from the entry sidewalk. This is unacceptable behavior which I have been writing to VRE for months, asking that action be taken but nothing has been done. My response from VRE is that it is the responsibility of Prince William police, not VRE. Either way, this poor behavior must be stopped. Let me suggest painting no parking/standing stripes.

    VRE Response
    Thanks for the feedback on this. We will look at this area for options to improve the situation.

  • Marie from Manassas, VA asks
    Please remind passengers that, when queuing, not to hold the vestibule doors open before reaching the station. It's turning colder and those of us not detraining need to keep the heat INSIDE the train. They'll lose 3 seconds, but can consider that a gift of heat to their fellow riders.

    VRE Response
    Great point Marie.  We'll ask the conductors to also keep an eye on this.

     

  • David from Manassas asks
    Has VRE decided yet about the day after thanksgiving? S schedule? With the increased ridership, prior years policies need to be relooked.

    VRE Response
    VRE will operate on an "S" schedule for the day after Thanksgiving.  Ridership has been declining on that specific day since we began operating on the Friday after Thanksgiving. With only 1,000 passengers on the Fredericksburg Line last year and 900 on the Manassas Line, each direction.  Not enough ridership to support a full schedule.

     

  • Carl from Stafford asks
    As a rider of 307 (4:10pm), I've noticed quite a few northbound Amtrak departures starting at 4:00. It seems if 307 is not at the station prior to 4:00, it gets caught waiting for traffic to pass and either just makes it to the station in time for departure or is late. Is the crew not ready to leave the yard or are Amtrak dispatchers slow to release VRE from the yard. Crew is great on 307 and handled yesterday's short consist very well.

    VRE Response
    Thanks for the feedback Carl.  The Amtrak staff is very good at getting our trains out of the yard and down to Union Station for an on time departure.  The challenge is the congestion once we arrive at Union station which can be the result of delays Amtrak trains may have experienced in areas all up and down the east coast.  Most station stops are only about 90 seconds in duration, but at Union Station, we can typically get to the platform a couple of minutes early.  Those times should be looked at as the exception rather than the rule.  Kim and the Amtrak staff do everything they can to make sure our passengers know which track a train will be boarding from so our passengers have ample time to be in place prior to departure.

     

  • Marc from Leeland asks
    This is more of a courtesy announcement than a question, for those who insist on wearing the VERY STRONG oil/cologne/perfume, PLEASE be considerate of others in your 1/2 of the train car and dial it down or don't wear it at all. It is just overwhelming and causes a headache.

    VRE Response
    Thanks Marc.

  • Jay from Broad Run asks
    I'm an avid train enthusiast and would love to take a quick tour of the locomotive. Any chance you guys offer tours?

    VRE Response
    Sorry Jay, we do not offer tours.

     

  • TERI from Stafford, Virginia asks
    Who's "Bright" idea was this? Out of all the days to run a shorter train on Halloween evening; VRE 305; (ran with 6 cars instead of the normal 8 cars). People are trying to get home so they can be with there Kids and accompany them on their outing. Not only are the isles full, so are the upstairs isles full. People were standing in the vestibules. Literally No Room to Move. We had to bypass Alexandria. Not only was this a bad idea, but also NOT SAFE!!!

    VRE Response
    Thanks for the feedback Teri.  As we explained in an earlier question, train lengths were changed based on prior year experience.  Last year, Train 303 carried the most passengers (1,238) so we gave 303 the 8-car train.  309 and 311 carried the next highest amounts, so those trains utilized the two 7-car trains, leaving 6 car trains for 305 and 307, which were lightly utilized last year.  We apologize to everyone who was inconvenienced.

  • Sardine from Manassas asks
    What happened last night 10/31 (Halloween) on the Manassas line we were packed in like Sardines standing in the stairwells and in the vestibules and steps this was totally unacceptable and unsafe! How did VRE fail to plan for the change in ridership based on a mass of folks leaving early to get home on Halloween for trick-or-treaters? You should have anticipated this and added cars to the consists like you do on other holidays! VRE FAILED us last night!

    VRE Response
    We did swap consists yesterday on both lines to make sure the earlier trains had additional cars.  325, the midday train generally operates with 6 cars but only carries around 300 passengers.  Yesterday it was a full 7-car set.  327, the first afternoon train was lengthened from 7 to 8 cars to help accommodate the earlier getaway.  This is part of the same adjustments we make on pre-holiday Friday afternoon service.  Unfortunately, if the demand is higher than we anticipate, or the travel patterns change year to year, crowding may occur.  The same issue happened yesterday on Fredericksburg Line 307, which had fewer cars based on prior year patterns, but more passengers chose to ride that train this year.

    We make adjustments based on past experience and available information, and we will continue to do what we can to make seat availability match demand.  We will do the same next week on Election Day.

     

  • Rosemary from Broad Run asks
    We are all adults? So why can't people behave like adults? Like not putting their feet on the walls/seats; not parking on the road along the airport; not pushing and shoving people out of the way to be the 'first out' in the parking lot; etc. People have become so rude on the Manassas line...and I'm sorry but if one more man pushes me around; I'm not sure I will be able to keep my mouth shut. The pushing and shoving is immature and childish! AND DANGEROUS!!!

    VRE Response
    Well said, Rosemary.

  • Terry from Fredericksburg, VA asks
    I have found for months now that the VRE App does not work well with Iphone. I have the Iphone 7 plus; the VRE APP clicks off constantly. Until IOS 11, it only clicked off when I would switch between departures/arrivals schedule, and the map GPS part, but since IOS 11, the APP won't stay open at all. I checked this VRE APP with my wife's Iphone 5, and it does the exact same thing - clicks off. I checked with a buddy of mine who has a Iphone 6, and he said he doesn't use the APP anymore because it clicks off constantly. This needs to be fixed, or do away with the APP.

    VRE Response
    Terry, we believe the app you are referencing is the VRE Rider App which was developed by a third party utilizing our publicly available data feeds.  It is not a VRE supported app, and we have heard the developer no longer supports or updates the app.  Our suggestion is to download VRE Mobile.  While originally developed as a ticketing app, there are links within the app to our website for schedules, fares, train location and service notifications.

  • JB from Stafford, VA asks
    Do you get information back from CSX or the fire department regard the fires on the track/ties that have recently disrupted service within the Beltway area?

    VRE Response
    Not sure of the source, but the fire started under the bridge.

  • John from Quantico VA asks
    Almost every morning, as we are pulling in to Crystal City, before we even open the doors for Crystal City, the L'Enfant people start to get up and stand in the aisle. The conductors do not see this because they are positioned to step off on to the platform as they open the doors, but these passengers make it so difficult for us to get by to detrain at Crystal City. Since they do it right as we pull in to that station, they do so undetected by the conductors, but they are the real reason for the issues surrounding the "standing means detraining" problem, and they are not being corrected.

    VRE Response
    Thanks for the feedback John.  We have shared this comment with Gerald Smith, one of the Keolis Transportation Managers who has joined us for the forum today.  He will share your comments with the train crews.  If you would, please drop us a note at gotrains@vre.org with the specific train number/car location to help us better focus our efforts.

     

  • George from Manassas asks
    I take Manassas 327 every workday. The conductor who makes the announcements has a very good speaking voice and I believe we all understand him clearly when he speaks. For every announcement and every announcement fragment, though, he repeats himself, I feel unnecessarily. Yesterday he repeated the location of the cars at Backlick Road a record six times. Could you ask him if he might try to say each announcement just once perhaps for a test period, and see if he doesn't get similar results, that is, we mind what he says? Thank you. Much appreciated.

    VRE Response
    Thanks George.  We're pleased the announcements are clear and we'll share your comment with the crew about repetitiveness.

     

     

  • Alex from Broad Run asks
    I don't suppose it is possible to institute some sort of hygiene policy for the riders? Aggressive cologne or people who don't bathe frequently.

    VRE Response
    Sorry Alex, some things remain the responsibility of the rider, and hygiene is one of those things.

     

     

Welcome to another edition of the monthly VRE Online Forum where on the first Wednesday of every month VRE Senior Operations Management, Rich Dalton - Deputy CEO/COO and Chris Henry - Director of Rail Operations, take an hour to answer your questions. We also have representatives from Keolis, our train operations and maintenance contractors, and Amtrak and CSX, two of our host railroads, here in the studio with us. Feel free to address any questions directly to them.

Many riders are asking about the overcrowding that occurred yesterday. We adjusted the consists based on historical ridership on Halloween. Looking at the ridership yesterday, the Manassas line did have standees but the longest consists were on those trains. For the Fredericksburg line, the trend changed from last year where 307 (Departs Union Station at 4:10pm) had the least amount of riders. Unfortunately this year, 307 became overcrowded to the point it had to skip Alexandria. We did not take this decision lightly and did it for the safety of the passengers.

On that note, we plan to lengthen select trains with additional cars by the end of the year. This is part of the ongoing improvement process for VRE service in an effort to reduce crowding on the most utilized trains. On any train, you may wish to speak to your conductor on where the available seats are as most riders stay in the car they board leaving other cars underutilized. When we begin to add cars, this will be especially true as the riders adjust.

Now on to the questions!