Thanks for another great hour of questions.  Looks like we had a little technical issue with our posts being delayed, but it seems to have caught up.

If we missed your question, please submit at, and put Online Forum in the subject line.  We'll have the group here address all unanswered questions.

Fingers crossed for an early Spring, we'll see everyone back here in March.

Rich, Chris, et al.


  • Joan from Fburg asks
    Why does the Fredericksburg #312 often get stuck behind the Manassas #330 in the mornings? Isn't having one delayed train enough? You need to make it two delayed trains?

    VRE Response
    A lot of times, trains may incur delay that will right before they get to Alexandria where the Manassas and Fredericksburg lines converge. If the dispatcher already has the signals lined, the delay would be increased if the signals have to be changed.


  • Dumfries Rider from Dumfries, VA asks
    Wondering if the same rules apply to smokers staying X amount of feet away from the platform to those who are "vapor" smokers. Their vapors blow in the direction of riders who are waiting on the platform. The reason is the person just moves a few feet down from the platform to Vapor smoke -- which we appreciate but just checking the rules for Smokers and Vapor Smokers.

    VRE Response
    VRE considers e-cigarettes or vapor smoking to be the same as any other kind of smoking.  Those individuals should abide by the same rules.

  • Another Rider from Woodbridge, VA asks
    Where have you published how you measure "on time" performance? It's wonderful that you publish numbers but they have limited meaning if one cannot check their completeness and accuracy.

    VRE Response
    A train is considered on time if it reaches the final station of the trip within 5 minutes of the scheduled arrival time.  More than 5 minutes, the train is considered late.

  • Charlie Bravo from Spotsy asks
    Just a reminder to the commuters at the Spotsylvania Station. The big red sign with white letters departing the parking lot, that's a stop sign. Oncoming traffic does not stop for you. Almost witnessed an accident yesterday when a gentleman blew thru the stop sign into oncoming traffic departing the station. It also impedes the flow of traffic leaving the station when you have the right of way and stop traffic to allow cars to pass. The more you know.

    VRE Response
    Thanks CB!

  • david from fredericksburg asks
    the conductors on 307 the past year have done a great job. josh, ben, hoover etc.

    VRE Response
    Thank you David.  We will pass that on to the crew.

  • Ty from Spotsylvania asks
    Kim - you are doing a great job at Union Station for keeping us informed. I don't care what the conductors say about you! Also what's the update with in person ticket sales there?

    VRE Response
    Kim says: Thanks Ty, I love working with the VRE passengers at Union Station. VRE is working with Amtrak to sell tickets at Union Station and we hope to have the agreement in place soon.

  • Standing Means Detraining from Virginia asks
    Why are VRE conductors enforcing the standing means... policy when riders have no option but standing? Are you trying to diminish your conductors' standing by giving them ridiculous policies to enforce?

    VRE Response
    The "standing means detraining" policy is to make sure that passengers are able to exit the train in a timely manner.  Conductors are asked to enforce this policy to help with boarding and exiting in a timely manner.

  • Pat from Woodbridge, VA asks
    Any progress on getting the correct expiry dates on monthly tickets in the app? It's been over a year. Riders currently cannot use their grace day for, e.g., Amtrak step up.

    VRE Response
    We met with the developers today and they have committed to having the grace day back in the mobile app by the end of the month, hopefully to be available for the first operating day of March.

  • Rufino from Broad Run asks
    I see lots of people board at Alexandria and ride into the city but I never see tickets getting checked for that segment. Is here a policy to check tickets during the inner city stops, or just check once during the trip when most convenient?

    VRE Response
    Gerald says: Tickets are supposed to be checked in every car.  We will ask the conductors to spend some time checking from Alexandria north.

  • Joe from Woodbridge asks
    I know this is a very frequently asked question on the monthly forum, but is there any update you can give us on the Potomac Shores station? Is it still slated to open this year, and if so, when? The last substantive update we have received on the progress was over a year ago and only estimated the opening as "2018."

    VRE Response
    We have not received an update from the developer which gives a better estimated date.

  • Joe from Woodbridge, VA asks
    Any chances of improving the Northbound passenger exit situation at L'Enfant on longer trains like the 308?

    VRE Response
    Sorry Joe, the trains cannot pull any further North at the L'Enfant platform.



  • Bryan from Fredericksburg asks
    Thanks in advance for answering this long question. This monthly forum is great! The January board meeting was canceled, but there is no reason on your website. Since it's the governing body which highly impacts the operation of you, the VRE staff, and us, the riders, why is it not transparent why this meeting is canceled? While on the transparency topic, there was not a link for the CEO report for January until late in the month, when it is usually up towards the beginning. This is the only place I can find aggregate performance data on your site. Please let me know if there are other places to view this because viewing performance data from two months ago is not the most transparent means. If you are open to a suggestion, can you revamp the "Daily Performance" page to one with root cause delay analysis updated daily, and maybe a daily or real time dashboard with on-time performance, ridership, and all the operational stats in your CEO Report? Currently, the performance information on this page is somewhat vague. For example, January 19, 2018 shows Train 303 delayed 9 minutes into Spotsy for a reverse move and PNA passengers, a term which is not defined in your Train Dictionary. I understand not stating at which stations the passengers delayed the train for privacy concerns. You should still track specifics about PNA passengers and analyze for your purposes, although as a rider, I would like to know where the reverse move took place and why. Is it for an operational need such as PNA passengers or because the engineer overshot the platform? I get it, sometimes missing the platform happens - operating a train is not like driving a car. But, it would make me feel safer if information like I'm asking is disclosed. Because IF a pattern began to emerge, then I asked you about it, you could readily tell me the corrective action plan(s) put in place, instead of "We'll address with the crews." You are transparent about train congestion delays and following other trains and waiting at a stop signal for trains to clear the track but I am left wondering what it all means. Aren't all those reasons really just the same thing? Please be active and clear in your performance communications because I want to be an informed rider who points to you as a shining example. I appreciate you telling us safety is your #1 priority and more transparency is the proof in the pudding. VRE is wonderful for being so helpful with all these ways to ask questions and get answers, I felt like I had to submit a FOIA when I rode LIRR :) P.S. The Daily Performance page for February is missing the "Collapse all | Expand all" buttons.

    VRE Response
    Here we go Bryan, we'll try to cover all of the questions:

    The January Operations Board meeting was canceled because there were no items on the agenda requiring Board action.

    Not sure why the CEO report was delayed in getting posted but we'll check.

    We are working on several projects which will allow more real-time reporting of some of our operational metrics.  This should allow us to develop a dashboard for sharing the data through our website or mobile app.

    Specifically on January 19th: 303 had to make a reverse move coming down to the platform at Union Station from our midday storage yard due to congestion in the terminal, so it could utilize a different track.

    PNA is a Passenger Needing Assistance.  It is the term we use to refer to any passenger who may need additional time or assistance in boarding or alighting.  In the case of 303 on the 19th, we had 7 PNAs who all needed the use of a wheelchair lift, which resulted in a little extra time at the stations.

    We try to be as clear as possible when experiencing a delay and provide whatever information we have available.  Many of the reasons may sound similar but each has a different meaning operationally and allows us to address them individually if we need to do a root cause analysis.

    Hopefully those answers help.  If you have other questions, just submit to and we'll be able to address them all in more detail.


  • Obi-Wan from Kingstowne asks
    Just have to state that the METRO parking price hike, doubling the rate for non-Metro riders at Springfield, is grossly unfair and discriminatory. But I suppose it is totally within METRO's "rights" to test from whom they can extract more money without losing METRO riders. So my question is, does VRE foresee less cooperation between METRO and VRE in te future? For example, will VRE riders have to pay to use METRO when VRE has delay issues? Finally, METRO, VRE, MARC and others should reralize that arking is an essential feature to encouraging the use of your transportation mode, does VRE have a policy on supporting/providing free or minimal priced parking where applicable? Potenitally another $1,000 per year for the pprivilege to park and then ay the mass transit fee is likjely a recipe to encourage greater use of lyft/uber/self-drive. Doubling the rate for a segment of customers because one "can" is not a sound approach to supporting public transit in general.

    VRE Response
    VRE does not charge for parking at any of our stations.  WMATA has increased the parking fee at the Franconia/Springfield station for non-metro riders.  We have expressed our concerns and continue to work with WMATA for a resolution which would allow VRE riders to pay the standard fee.



  • David from Woodbridge, VA asks
    Will VRE be using the L'Enfant Plaza storage space soon and why has it been delayed?

    VRE Response
    We hope to have the storage tracks in use shortly.  We are simply working through some punch list issues.  We will keep you posted once we have a firm date.


  • Long long time rider from Manassas, VA asks
    Is there a time frame of when the L'Enfant station will have part of the grass paved behind the current platform? We have made our slushy cow path because the platform is so full we cant get from one side to the other. HELP!

    VRE Response
    There is design work underway, but we do not have a target date yet.



  • Gerry from Spotsy asks
    Why does it tell me it is loading after I submit a question here? Makes me think my question did not go through.

    VRE Response
    Not sure Gerry, but this question came through.


  • cliff from burke va asks
    why cant VRE change the size of the trains when the government is going to open late, you change train size other times?

    VRE Response
    Good question Cliff.  When we have enough notice, it is no problem making the adjustment.  It simply takes some planning and time to make the required moves in the yard, and make sure all paperwork is changed with the railroads.  This morning, we did not have adequate time to make the adjustments.



  • James from Burke asks
    Lately on 328, the fourth car from the front, there has been an epidemic of people sitting on the aisle when there is no one at the window and/or putting bags on the seats next to them. One day last week, I counted five people doing that when I got on at Burke. This trend is even more infuriating given that the conductor is often on that car at Burke, and I've seen several conductors walk right past offenders before Rolling Road and Backlick. While some may say, "What's the problem, I'm happy to get up and let someone in," it is a problem because it takes longer to board when you have to pick up your bags, get out of the seat, etc. I'm sure some of those people are the very same ones who complain when we "unnecessarily" hold at the platform for a few extra moments. Would my fellow passengers please follow the rules of common courtesy and leave the aisle seat open for later-boarding people? And would the conductors *please* enforce the stated policy?

    VRE Response
    Thanks James, we'll have the crews do some additional announcements about bags on seats, and address it as they walk through the cars.

  • Dan from Gainesville, VA asks
    After 20 years riding VRE to Pentagon, I'm now retired. I wish to thank you for the outstanding service and wish everyone continued success. Will see you on the Xmas Express!

    VRE Response
    Thanks for the note Dan.  Congratulations on the retirement.  We are glad VRE was your choice for the commute.  Best of Luck.




  • Tired in Manassas from Manassas, VA asks
    Is VRE or the City of Manassas responsible for maintenance of the elevators in the Manassas station parking garage? Car #2 has not worked in several weeks and both cars require frequent maintenance.

    VRE Response
    VRE handles the elevators.  We are working with Schindler who has ordered the part necessary to repair Car #2 so the fix should be completed shortly.



  • David from Richmond VA asks
    I have noticed several service dogs on the train. I wonder if VRE has adopted a policy of using anti-icing compounds that are pet friendly? Or, does VRE use compounds that can harm the dogs' feet and/or may be poisonous?

    VRE Response
    The ice melt utilized at our stations is pet friendly.

  • John from Brooke asks
    Don't know about other stations, but the winter crew seems to way over do the "salt" treatment on Brooke platforms, even under the shelters. We end up tracking the chemicals into the rail cars and their floors end up being more dangerous than the platforms. I'd never use so much "salt" on my own property and wouldn't think others would as well. I applaud the focus on safety, but let's be prudent.

    VRE Response
    We'll share your comments with the Facilities crew John.



  • Graham from Spotsylvania, VA asks
    Can you move the car counters inside the turns and remove the speed bumps? I assume there have not been any wrecks as VRE riders are very courteous and always alternate with other riders exiting the parking lot. The bumps are more of a nuisance than anything.

    VRE Response
    Sorry you feel they are a nuisance Graham.  As mentioned last month, the counters need cars to be traveling at or below 35 mph to be accurate.  During testing, we had vehicles traveling well above 35 mph.  We are as disappointed as you about the need to have the humps in place.


  • Spotsylvania from Commuter asks
    What are the crews working on adjacent to the Spotsylvania commuter lot, Housing or retail?

    VRE Response
    Primarily housing, but there may also be some retail presence.



  • Standing Means Detraining Policy from 300 Express asks
    Is the queing standing means detraining policy still in place? Each morning there are still a few individuals who get up prior to the Alexandria stop (one gentleman is a quite large) in the next to the last car (car with the restroom) and stand all the way to L'Enfant. They block the way for the few people getting off at Alexandria and the cueing cases problems for the many people getting off at Crystal City. Can you please have the train conductor monitor this and also make announcements?

    VRE Response
    Thank you for the feedback.  We'll share this with the crew and ask them to step up their efforts to monitor and manage queuing.


  • LAWYER Charles from Washington asks
    Any changes in fare?

    VRE Response
    There are no planned fare increases for this year.

  • Raymond from Broad Rub asks
    At the intersection of Piper Lane and the parking lot service road there is a street light – this street light is almost never on, yet I occasionally see it on in the early mornings so apparently it does actually work. Could you please ask PW County to allow this light to be on full time at least until daylight and in the early evenings to help us see in this particularly dark area? Thank you.

    VRE Response
    We will contact the county. They have been contacted before on this, and VRE will reach out again.

  • Dick from Broad Run asks
    I though I saw somewhere that the seat replacements are gonna happen. Can you give more insight to that?

    VRE Response
    It's part of our life cycle maintenance program and it's currently under development. 

  • Marianne from Burke, VA asks
    I read about the change in Metro parking fees with concern. For VRE riders parking at Franconia Springfield, there will be a $3-$4 per day increase. When VRE opens up the "Metro Option" (fortunately, this is the only time I would be using this station) during service disruptions, will this surcharge be covered?

    VRE Response
    Unfortunately, parking fees are not covered when the Metro Option is opened.

Welcome to February's Online Forum.  Joining us in the studio today from Keolis are Paul, the Chief Mechanical Officer, and Gerald, the Transportation Manager.  Kim, the Amtrak Station Manager for Union Station has also joined us as has Brian from CSX.

Winter is still with us, and Phil saw his shadow, so it could be here for awhile.  Please remember to use extreme caution while driving through the parking lots or walking to and from the platforms.

Now, on to the questions!