Thanks for another great month. If we were unable to answer your question, please email us at We look forward to Santa Trains this weekend, as well as the onboard Toys for Tots drive next Wednesday December 12th.  We hope everyone has a safe and happy holiday season.

We’ll see you back here next year!

Rich, Chris, …et al.

  • Ronald from Woodbridge asks
    If you can run trains today with the government closed, why can you run trains on the other days that the government is closed?

    VRE Response
    Good question Ronald.  On most government holidays, ridership demand is too low to justify operating, even at the reduced "S" schedule level.

    We have tested running on some of the "soft" holidays like Veteran's Day and Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, but ridership levels were very low.  We have continued to operate an "S" schedule on the Friday after Thanksgiving. 

    On days when the government closes due to weather issues, our decision is two-fold, 1. Is it safe to operate and is it safe for our passengers to travel to and from our stations, and 2. If it is safe, what level of service can we offer.  If we deem it is safe to operate despite the closure of the government, we generally run an "S" schedule because of the expected lower demand.

  • Genevive from Springfield, VA asks
    A comment - there were two questions last month about the very high parking cost charged to VRE riders by WAMATA at the Franconia Springfield garage, and I wanted to share what has worked great for me as I was not able to afford the $8.95 per day charge. The Springfield Town Center has free commuter parking in their parking garage on levels 2, 4 and 6 (there is a sign at each entrance saying this, and in the early morning you will see groups of cars on these levels.) I have been walking from this garage to the VRE platform since the price increase went into effect last February, and have been pleasantly surprised at how much I enjoy the walk and by how much money I have saved. So far, since last February I have saved by not parking at the WAMATA garage roughly $1, 800 and will be saving on average around $2,000 per year. Even if the price goes back down to the regular price charged to Metro users I won't be back (I'd rather have the roughly $1,200 per year at the cost of $4.85 per day). It takes approximately 8 minutes to walk from the Springfield Town Center parking garage to the WAMATA garage, and if you figure in in the evening the sitting in traffic that sometimes backs up by the light at the WAMATA garage the comparative time walking in the evening can sometimes be even less. So for roughly an extra 16 minutes per day in time spent, you can save roughly $2,000 per year and get a bit of exercise daily as well. The walk is not too bad, and for anyone negatively impacted by the high cost of the WAMATA parking charge for VRE riders, I'd encourage people to give it a try. There is also a shuttle that runs regularly, the Springfield Circulator, which will pick you up at the bottom of the escalator at the station, and drop you off by the Movie theater entrance of the garage. It is the Springfield Circulator S80/S91 (.25 cents a ride), although I have found it is easier and often quicker to just walk. I'd encourage people struggling to pay the charge to give it a try.

    VRE Response
    Great input Genevive.  We shared this information through Train Talk and in RIDE, and we have it on our website as well.  We'll refresh those messages on all channels and reissue.

  • Rick from Linden asks
    Wondering why I pass through an area called Broad Run two dozen miles before I get to Bristow where the Broad Run station is?

    VRE Response
    Maybe a break in the space/time continuum?

  • frank` from Atlanta, Ga`` asks
    With the many business I will visit near the new Potomac yard station has the lay out been determined yet?. Will station platforms be on the outside of tracks 1 and 4 or some other configuration ?

    VRE Response
    Frank, we believe you may have VRE confused with WMATA (Metro).

  • Joe from Rippon asks
    It's been said frequently here and elsewhere that VRE does not necessarily follow OPM's decision to open or close when deciding on service levels for a certain day. If this is true, why was an 'S' schedule run yesterday if not due to a lower expected ridership? It does not seem as though there would be any issues with the rail network causing the need for a reduced level of service.

    VRE Response
    Joe, as mentioned earlier, we do not use OPM's decision to determine service or no service, but we do take it into account when determining service level.  Expected low ridership numbers based on a change in OPM's status is why we altered our service level.

  • Bryce from Manassas VA asks
    How high does VRE rank for On-Time arrivals (it must be very high)?

    VRE Response
    Thanks for the question Bryce.  We have traditionally been able to maintain On-time Performance levels of 90-95% consistently.  For reasons we documented in a recent issue of RIDE magazine, this OTP fell during the Summer this year but has been creeping back up.  October and November came in at 86% system-wide, so still not where we want it to be, but improving.

  • Mike from Woodbridge asks
    Any movement on getting the GPS map compatible with the Apple Watch?

    VRE Response
    Not sure Mike.  Can you add a shortcut to on the Apple watch to display the train status map?  Send your contact info to us at and we'll have someone work with you to see if there is a solution.

  • Bryce from Manassas VA asks
    Is it safe for passengers to stand while trains are moving (what if a derailment occurred just before a stop)?

    VRE Response
    Our cars are designed to allow standing.

  • Connie from Spotsy asks
    It might be time to consider a new class of conductors. Over the last 6 months or so, throughout the trains both face to face and over the radio, there has been some serious backstapping, name calling and very unprofessional activities. You can hear chit chat between the conductors on the appearance of females regarding their dress and body size/shape. Perhaps they are cutting up amongst themselves, but it is unprofessional and should remain in the bar room. VRE used to be a very professional organization but that professionalism has gone out the window.

    VRE Response
    Thank you for the feedback Connie.  While we have not seen or experienced issues as you describe, we agree behavior such as this should not be tolerated.  If you can share specifics with us at, we will be happy to address this with the individual crew members.

  • Brad from Spotsy asks
    Why does the 300 only have 7 cars on the platform at Spotsy?

    VRE Response
    Trains have to stop far enough back from the signal at the north end of the platform, so the 8 car trains leave 1 car off at the south end.

  • Tammy from Brooke asks
    You stated last month you pre-answer questions. I thought this whole time they were on the spot answers. Now it makes me wonder why you don't answer certain questions. I normally see you answer softball questions or ones you can easily punt which made sense if you didn't have time to prepare. Make me feel better about this lip service you provide, please.

    VRE Response
    It is really not lip service Tammy.  We answer the questions we can answer.  If we choose not to answer a question, it is generally because; 1. Inappropriate language, 2. Personal information which does not need published to the public, 3. Items regarding our business partners where it would be inappropriate for us to comment on their behalf, 4. Redundant questions, ...etc.

    If we do not answer your specific question, you may always submit it to, and put Online Forum in the subject line and we'll make sure we follow-up with you individually.

  • Annoyed from Fairfax asks
    First, thank you - the train is great. My complaint is with my fellow riders. I get that time is precious, and people like to back into parking spaces so that they can get out faster in the evening. No problem if you're early, or there is no one behind you. Unfortunately, many times one man's back-in park job - as the train is pulling into the station - means that the six cars waiting behind him MISS the train. It's just rude and inconsiderate to your fellow riders. Could you put something in the magazine, on the website, maybe have a conductor announcement about this? Thanks!

    VRE Response
    Thanks Annoyed, we see the same issue at other stations.  We'll be happy to add it to Courtesy Reminders on our Train Talks and in RIDE magazine.

  • Joe from VA asks
    How is it decided which cars will or will not make the platform at certain stations? I understand why the train stops where it does at L'Enfant for example, but why do the first three cars on some 8 car trains miss the platform at Woodbridge in the evenings? Wouldn't it make sense to more evenly distribute which cars miss the platform between both ends of the train? This would mean some people have to walk through fewer cars to de-train and potentially expedite the de-boarding process.

    VRE Response
    Great question Joe.  Some trains platform differently at the same station to accommodate passengers who need assistance and cannot walk through cars or need to utilize the onboard lift to detrain.  In some cases, like Woodbridge, putting the last car of the southbound train on the platform allows us to better distribute the passenger load throughout the train.  With the northernmost car on the platform, near the walkway to the garage, Woodbridge passengers have migrated to the back of the train.  Prior to doing this, the last car was generally empty.  If we simply pulled the first or last cars off the platform at every station, the center cars in every train would be too crowded, and no one would sit at either end.

  • Joe from Woodbridege, VA asks
    VRE overcrowding has become a way of life since Metro began its shutdowns and federal agencies cut back on telework. Now comes Amazon's headquarters on the heels of an additional station opening south of Quantico. What can riders expect in 2019 beyond the frequent delays caused by CSX track congestion?

    VRE Response
    Thanks for the question Joe.  As we mentioned previously, a big part of the congestion issue was the loss of track 1 between Alexandria and Franconia/Springfield, forcing freight traffic onto tracks 2 and 3 utilized by the VRE trains.  The project to replace the bridge and bring track 1 back in service is progressing well and should be completed on schedule by the end of this month.

  • Dave from Spotsy asks
    Will VRE consider moving up the 300 Express departure time from Spotsy 10-15 earlier in the future?

    VRE Response
    No plans at this time Dave.

  • Nat from Manassas asks
    Hello, I am using prepaid card (which is pre-tax deduction from paycheck) to buy monthly ticket and it is only one machine out of four accepting it at Manassas Park station. Can machine be fixed?

    VRE Response
    Sorry for the challenges Nat.  Drop us a note at, with your contact information and we'll have someone contact you to make sure the issue gets resolved.

  • Tom from Burke, va asks
    Why is it that, at every "meet VRE event", not one person takes notes? What will VRE do when the price of the monthly ticket exceeds the monthly transit benefit or the transit benefit is no longer available?

    VRE Response
    We do take notes at the Meet The Management events so we can follow-up on concerns voiced.

  • Marianne from Manassas,va asks
    New VRE rider. What is the snow policy?

    VRE Response
    Decisions on whether to operate are based on whether passengers can safely drive to and from our stations, and traverse parking lots and platforms.  If we determine it is safe to operate, then we decide on whether to operate our full, regular schedule, or if ridership is projected to be low, we may opt to run a reduced "S" schedule service.  We will send Train Talks out as soon as the decision is made, typically no later than 4 am.

  • Matt from Burke asks
    Why was the train service scheduled to be S service today? Is the VRE now call GVRE or called Government VRE?

    VRE Response
    Thanks for the question Matt.  As mentioned earlier, the level of service we provide is based on the expected ridership levels.  Yesterday, on our morning service, we carried only 1900 passengers on both lines.  Since we generally bring 10,000 passengers up in the morning, that means we operated at less than 20% of our normal business level.  We operated 50% of our regular scheduled trains which still gave ample capacity for the demand but allowed us to eliminate the costly turn trains and some things which make our regular daily service less efficient.  We do understand this is an inconvenience for some of our riders, but we were still able to provide service.

  • Mfk from Manassas Virginia asks
    What is the capitol of North Dakota?

    VRE Response

  • Megan from Leeland Station asks
    There are very large potholes at the Primmer House Rd. entrance to the Leeland Road lot. Is it possible to get these filled in?

    VRE Response
    Thanks Megan, Stafford County maintains the gravel lot, so our Facilities Manager is reaching out to them so they can get this addressed.

  • Yvonne from Triangle, Va asks
    When people bring bikes, why can't they pay extra since take he or she take up so many seats.

    VRE Response
    Part of the role of a transit provider is to make efforts to keep cars off the road.  We are always looking for ways to solve first mile/last mile challenges by partnering with bus operators, shuttles, bikeshare companies, adding bike lockers...etc.  Some passengers prefer to bring their bikes on the entire trip, and we want to encourage the behavior.  We recognize the challenge of placing full-sized bikes on crowded cars which is why only trains with ample capacity availability accept full-sized bikes.

  • AJ from Woodbridge, VA asks
    Could you please reach out to Prince William County? There has been a large amount of standing water at the bottom of the steps leading from the Riverside Station community to the Rippon VRE station parking lot for over a year. This attracts bugs in summer and freezes over in winter creating a slip hazard. Thank you.

    VRE Response
    Will do AJ.  Thank you for the note.

  • Rob from Lorton, VA asks
    Is smoking allowed on the platform at Crystal City? There is an ash tray on the far end of the platform. If so, why is it still allowed?

    VRE Response
    Smoking is permitted on the north end of all of our platforms.

  • Fabricio from Manassas Park asks
    Please make sure to check tickets every time. I got a summons for forgetting to validate my eticket 5 minutes into my ride back in March-- and I don't mind paying a fine for not following the rules. But I don't like to feel like my $180 went down the drain if tickets aren't checked on a regular basis (I'm looking at you, crowded and late evening trains). Anyways, tickets aside, the VRE is a dream. I've been riding for over a year now and I've never seen a commuter rail so communicative with their customers and accountable for their time. After riding the NYC subway for 8 years, I'm still in awe of your timeliness and attention to your customers. Don't let the haters get you down!

    VRE Response
    Thank you for the kind words Fabricio.  Conductors are asked to do 100% ticket checks, though there are occasions when their primary duties do not allow fare inspection as thoroughly.  We'll share your comments with the conductors and emphasize the need to stay vigilant.

  • Cam from Woodbridge VA asks
    I am a monthly pass holder. Many times I have to stand up on the train home. Some trains are at capacity and some are well below capacity on the Fredericksburg line. What can be done to add more train cars to help with the overcrowding at peak rush hour?

    VRE Response
    Great question Cam. We do have a few additional rail cars which will enable us to extend some trains.  Right now, we just need space to store the longer trains.  We have projects underway and the next step is to finish the storage track south of the L'Enfant station, which will then give us additional space in the midday storage yard north of Union Station.  As soon as we have a projected completion date on the new storage track, we'll let you know.

  • GJ Nemes from Spotsylvania, VA asks
    How will the planned Metro reconstruction of all platform south of the Ronald Reagan Airport next summer affect VRE accessibility for passengers, especially at the key location of Franconia-Springfield? Will VRE passengers still be able to embark and disembark VRE trains during the reconstruction period?

    VRE Response
    Thanks for asking, GJ.  We just heard from WMATA (Metro) that VRE passengers will have access to the elevators and stair tower from the parking garage to access the VRE platform.

  • Erin from Clifton, VA asks
    Can you discuss the Manassas train schedule? My u serstanding is that 25% of the trains go against rush hour traffic ion the morning and afternoon, resulting in few train times and very crowded trains carrying rush hour traffic. Are those trains that run against rush hour traffic full? Has any consideration been given to only having one train run against rush hour traffic? Adding another train in the direction of rush hour traffic to accommodate rush hour riders in terms of space and departure times? The Fredericksburg line doesn't run any trains against traffic (understand that it may not do so due to train congestion) - but this appears to work fine. Is it completely necessary to use so many resources for opposite direction riders in such a heavily populated metropolitan area? Please help me understand the thinking by giving me the relevant facts. Thank you!

    VRE Response
    Great question Erin.  One of the constraints we have, specifically on the Manassas Line is the current size of our Broad Run Maintenance and Storage Facility.  Since we only have five consists (trains) at the Broad Run MSF, we run a reverse flow train in the morning back to Broad Run.  The first northbound Train #322 returns to Broad Run as Southbound Train #321, and then makes another northbound trip as Train #332.  Similarly, the first two afternoon trains return to Union Station to make additional southbound trips.

    Currently, the Crossroads Maintenance and Storage Facility in Spotsylvania can accommodate 8 consists, allowing us to operate 8 trains up and 8 trains back with no reverse flow.

    We do have projects underway to expand our storage capacity at both facilities which will help us add capacity to the peak direction trains.

  • Pic from Haymarket, Va asks
    Two Questions. 1.Loved your John Cleese social train etiquette lessons, especially the "Queuing in the isles". Can you bring him back? 2 Seems our old folks have abandoned their brief cases and computer bags. They now wear back backs. I find myself being struck on the head or shoulders at least weekly by folks sauntering down the isles, oblivious to whats swinging behind them. Can you add this subject to the train social etiquette training? Thanks

    VRE Response
    We'll be happy to utilize the pre-recorded announcements, and we'll make sure the issue is added to the next etiquette article.

  • Del from Fredericksburg asks
    What's happening with the WIFI on VRE? Will we ever have it or not?

    VRE Response
    No change yet, Del.  As always, once the technology can provide a quality service throughout our entire network, we'll revisit.

  • Joe from Stafford, VA asks
    I have been a rider since 2005 and it is my perception that a few "chronic" complainers seem to be steering the operation for VRE...squeaky wheel I guess. A few years ago, VRE removed the lock detent tabs from all of the doors, because of a few people that said, "I'm cold." However, people are getting smashed in the doors, because they do close quickly. The detents tabs are gone, so the doors cannot be held open. Was it that big a deal for them to get up out of their seat and close the doors? It only took a simple push. I hear people complain about the cars being cold, but they are sitting there with a t-shirt and hoodie, when it is 28 degrees out.

    VRE Response
    The door open levers were intended only to be operated by train crew members.  The doors should remain closed when the train is moving.  The levers were removed because passengers were taking it upon themselves to hold the doors open.  Leaving the doors closed allows the HVAC system to better control the temperature in the car so more passengers can be comfortable.

  • Marc from Leeland asks
    Why are my questions being labeled as SPAM to your web page?

    VRE Response
    Not sure Marc, we'll dig into it.

  • Marc from Leeland asks
    How will the new station at Potomac Shores be affecting the train schedule? Will you be adding the time at the beginning of the schedule at the start or add time to the ending of the train at Union Station?

    VRE Response
    The first train out in the morning is limited based on our agreements with the host railroads.  Beyond the first train, we will write the schedules to incorporate the new station, manage the headways between trains, and consider any changes to Amtrak schedules.

  • Concerned Pedestrian from Woodbridge, Virginia asks
    Each afternoon a white Saab speeds out of the parking garage and exits out of the "entrance" of the Train Station. Please have your VRE staff address.

    VRE Response
    We'll share this with Prince William County.

  • Betty from Manassas asks
    I got ran over by 4 men (not reindeer) charging from the last car (manassas 327) trying to get to the front of the train to get off at Broad run. Others, like me are still getting off the train at the Manassas stop. This is seriously getting ridiculous.

    VRE Response
    Thanks for the feedback Betty.  As you know, we have a continual program emphasizing "Standing Means Detraining" to try to keep everyone in their seats and out of the way of those trying to detrain at earlier stations.  The Broad Runners are probably the biggest challenge, but your experience is not unique across our system.  The issue is usually only on specific trains, cars, and stations, so if you'll drop us a note at, we'll have the Keolis Transportation Managers and conductors focus on your specific experience.

Good Afternoon and welcome to the Thursday version of the first Wednesday of the month Online Forum.  We appreciate everyone’s flexibility in the day change to accommodate yesterday’s National Day of Mourning for former President George H.W. Bush.

Joining us in the studio today are Kim from Amtrak as well as Richard and Lance from Keolis.  Brian from CSX is joining remotely.

Let’s get to the questions…