Thank you for another exciting hour.  If your question was not answered, or if you would like more detail than we could provide here, please email us at, and put Online Forum in the subject line.

As a reminder, there will be no VRE service on Monday, November 12, 2018 in observance of Veterans Day.  Regular service will resume on Tuesday, November 13th.

Santa Trains are coming!  The big guy will be here on Saturday, December 8th.  Tickets go on sale Monday, November 19th at 9 am.  As always, sales will take place online and at some vendor locations.  Please visit our Santa Trains information page at:

Thank you again for joining us today.  We’ll see you back here on December 5th.

Rich, Chris, et al.

  • guest1 from Spotsy asks
    to the CSX team, I don't find it coincidental that CSX schedules their Freight trains during the limited VRE operations 4:45 AM - 0900 AM and from 03:20-0830PM. Why are your your trains coming right during those times is beyond any common sense. The VRE riders are paying to use the service not to mention our tax dollars? Can you work with the DOT traffic management and your Scheduling team to minimize those CSX operations during those times?! Thank you!

    VRE Response
    CSX is aware of the frustrations caused by delays. CSX as a whole, has made modifications to its operations and has transitioned the entire network. We are working to iron out congestion issues.

    The bridge replacement project just south of Alexandria will help dispatchers as this track has been out of service since April. That track will be back in service by the end of the year.

  • 303 South from Springfield asks
    Each day on the 303 train on the last car an older gentleman gets on at Springfield and stands in the way until Woodbridge. If by chance someone try to detrain before him he gives dirty looks and sometimes yells. Plenty of seats of typically available, shouldn't everyone be sitting until right before their stop?

    VRE Response
    Standing is allowed, but standees should be stepping off at each station to make sure anyone wishing to detrain may do so.

  • Bill from Burke asks
    how often do you wash the rolling stock. they seem a little dirty, and the engines have a lot of black soot

    VRE Response
    We have a train wash at our Spotsylvania Maintenance and Storage Facility, and Amtrak sends our train through their train wash during our midday storage period.  The weather impacts the ability to wash the trains more frequently.

  • Stacey from Rippon, VA asks
    Thanksgiving is coming and usually very busy on those early trains, especially at Union. What is VRE planning to do to keep us safe from issues that may occur from overcrowding?

    VRE Response
    On the Wednesday before Thanksgiving, we will adjust our afternoon trains so the longest trains come out on the earlier schedule. We do this generally on Fridays before long weekends as well.

  • JB from Brooke asks
    VRE, thank you for being an exceptional option to driving to work, and I'll go out on a limb and also thank you for not raising rates every year. I don not see the current rate discussion as a big deal. We all need to realize that nothing stays cheap forever. Maybe the people who are complaining think VRE should not keep wages up, or conduct maintenance, etc. Thanks again!

    VRE Response
    Thank you for the feedback JB.

  • Sunny from Alexandria asks
    When your engine is at the back of the train, how can you see where you're going? Is it like driving in reverse the entire way?

    VRE Response
    Great question Sunny,

    VRE runs a push/pull service. In the mornings, the locomotive is at the rear of the train and provides the power, but the engineer is actually in an operator's compartment on the upper level of the lead car, or Cab Control Car.

  • David from Woodbridge asks
    Will VRE ever consider running a weekend train? Depart about 845am heading north and head south about 4pm.

    VRE Response
    We have no current plans for weekend service.

  • Bill from Burke asks
    what's the purpose of the two digit code and the QR code on my monthly mobile ticket?

    VRE Response
    The two digit code is a unique day code, and the QR code contains information on when the ticket was validated.  Both are security measures to ensure the ticket is valid.

  • Dave from Manassas asks
    I have a 10 trip fare card that hasn't worked for validating. I told a conductor about it yesterday morning and he swapped it out for 10 FRC's. He did mention that some of the 10 trip far cards have been having issues. Can you provide more info on this?

    VRE Response
    We had an issue with the ticket production equipment utilized by CommuterDirect which resulted in some of the tickets being sent out with bad magnetic stripes.  The print mechanism has been replaced, but only after many tickets had been distributed. As always, if you have any issues validating tickets, please see a conductor prior to boarding and they will take care of you.

  • Ms. L. from Fredericksburg, VA asks
    Can the VRE Mgmt. coordinate/ negotiate with Fred Shuttle to provide direct AM/PM rush hour connector shuttle bus service schedules to/from the Stafford Co. VRE Stations from VDOT Commuter Lots at Rt. 17 (to Fredericksburg Station) and Route 610 Commuter Lots? Currently only provided for the Rt. 3 Corridor Commuter Lots? Thank you for your consideration.

    VRE Response
    We'll reach out to FRED, Ms. L.

  • matt from burke va asks
    when will the construction be completed on track 26 and 27? Seems to be taking a long time.

    VRE Response
    Portions will be available for the holiday season, but final completion is likely to be next Spring.

  • David from Lorton asks
    Why is it that when you send an email to Go Trains and then get an automated response to the effect that if it time sensitive to call. Then when you call, you are told to put send an email to Go Trains. I tell the person answering the phone that I have sent it to Go Trains and the response is to send it again - really! This is not the first time for this response to me or to other passengers. If this the deal, then what is the purpose of "Go Trains"?

    VRE Response
    Sorry for the confusion David, there are some times, especially if your concerns are related to staff or crew members, we ask for them in writing so we can forward to the appropriate supervisors for follow-up.  Otherwise, the communications staff answering the phones should be able to address the issue, or get you in contact with someone who can.


  • L'Enfant Concerns from Manassas asks
    I was looking at your current project page and did not see where you plan to expand the platform so we won't be forced to walk in the dirt/mud just to get to the other end of the platform. I was told during the meet the management this summer that this was being addressed. I saw pretty pictures but now nothing on the project page. What happened?

    VRE Response
    It is listed under the Facilities Projects. It is still going to happen, but it will be more involved than we initially hoped.  Check for updates.

  • Connie from Fredericksburg asks
    With the cold weather approaching, would it be possible to again ask that the conductors not hold the vestibule doors open while chatting with a passenger. This is happening more and more often and when the request is made to allow the doors to close, you dirty looks from both the passenger and the conductor. If they need/want to chat with a passenger, why can't it be done either in the vestibule or in the body of the car?

    VRE Response
    Valid point Connie, it has been added to the list for Keolis Transportation managers to take back to the crews.

  • Thomas from Manassas Park asks
    No good options in Manassas to buy tickets, no good options to buy tickets at Union Station after you stopped TWO years ago. Any plans for improving this? And don't tell me about cell phones, I got a flip phone.

    VRE Response
    We are working to finalize an agreement with Amtrak to sell our tickets at Union Station and at the Alexandria station.  The equipment is already in place at Union Station.  We will let you know as soon as we are ready to begin sales.

  • Kathy from Fairfax, VA asks
    Can any enforcement be done to ensure that those with mobility issues can get a seat in the first section of the cars? Also, is there a special place for people who may need help getting on up the steps to board?

    VRE Response
    Great questions Kathy.  Conductors are available to assist in both cases.  Ask the conductor on your train how he or she can assist best. 

  • Billy from Manassas Park, VA asks
    According to your CEO report, your operating ratio is close to 60% and the reason you cite for the 3% fare increase is to maintain a 50% operating ratio. Seems like you could go a little longer without a fare increase, maybe wait until January 2020?

    VRE Response
    Check out the presentation on our proposed FY 2020 budget.  We are budgeting for a 53% farebox recovery ratio to make sure we are able to stay above the mandated 50% level.

  • Jon from Bristow asks
    How are you able to answer so many questions in one hour? You must be some fast typers!

    VRE Response
    Questions may be submitted as early as 6 pm the night before the forum, so we get a head start on many of the questions.  This allows us to research or get feedback from others in the organization or our partners so the answers are more informative.  Then we can respond to more questions as they come in live during the hour.

  • Bob from Brooke, VA asks
    I work in the private sector and expected to be in the office on Black Friday and Christmas Eve. I see your schedule is operating trains on Black Friday but not Christmas Eve. I am pretty sure you would have the same amount of people ride on Black Friday as you would on Christmas Eve Monday, so what's the decision making process to decide when or not to run trains? Because you have always done it that way?

    VRE Response
    Apologies Bob, we will operate an "S" schedule on 12/24 and 12/31.  The website has been updated to accurately reflect the schedule.

  • Sarah from Burke, Virginia asks
    What is VRE doing to advance efforts to provide WiFi for riders? Amtrak provides WiFi on their trains that VRE riders can ride with a step-up ticket, without the 100% cell service coverage on the route concern that VRE references in the answer to the first FAQ.

    VRE Response
    Amtrak trains experience the same lack of signal as they pass through our service area, however, since this is such a small segment in their total network, they accept the lack of service in these areas.  For VRE, these areas represent a large portion of our network and would result in a level of service we are not willing to accept.


  • Coughing from Woodbridge asks
    Friendly reminder - put your hand over your mouth when coughing or just stay home when sick.

    VRE Response
    Another good courtesy and safety reminder. Thanks!

  • Angel from Fredericksburg Va asks
    There is no cell signal on the train which is very odd. Can you provide free WiFi on the train or fix the problem? 2 hour train rides to DC with lack of cell signal is very bothersome for the cost of the monthly pass. Also, it's very cold on the train. Can you adjust the heat? Thanks

    VRE Response
    The lack of cell service through several portions of our service area is why we do not offer WiFi.  Any WiFi service would have to depend on the same networks as your cell phone.

    As for cold trains, our car’s thermostats are set between 70-74 degrees, so we can have our mechanical crews check individual cars to make sure they are set to that level. 

    Keep in mind that the blowers in the upper level cannot be adjusted and they are there to circulate fresh air. If you are sitting upstairs and are cold you may wish to sit downstairs where the blowing is less pronounced. 

  • Betty from Manassas asks
    What day was the VRE RIDE magazine for October distributed?

    VRE Response
    We don't have the actual distribution date at hand, but copies are still in the holders in each car if you need a copy.  We believe it was just prior to Columbus Day weekend.

  • Joyce from Manassas Park asks
    With the cold weather upon us, it's a good time to remind all that we should not hold open the door to the vestibule while approaching the station. Holding the door open lets out what little heat there is within the body of the car and makes it more miserable for those who have a few more stops to go.

    VRE Response
    An excellent courtesy reminder. Thanks!

  • Disappointed Parent from Frustratedville asks
    I saw multiple alerts on you website a few weeks ago that was giving away Santa Train tickets. Is that why you sell out so fast? Giving them all away? Nice marketing strategy to make it scarce and more coveted by giving them away!

    VRE Response
    Santa train tickets cost $6 if purchased online and $5 if purchased at a vendor. Tickets go on sale Monday, November 19, 2018 at 9:00 a.m. and usually sell out within 6 minutes.

  • Norrey from Franconia/Springfield asks
    Any update on reducing Metro parking fees for VRE riders?

    VRE Response
    Previously answered.

  • John from Fairfax Station, Virginia asks
    What has VRE done to address the outlandish parking fee that Metro charges non-metro riders who park at the Franconia Springfield parking garage. When I first inquired last January, the answer I received was that the building belonged to metro and nothing could be done. But metro is not shy about asking for tax dollars from the jurisdictions where they reside, and most of us are govt. workers. And why is the cost almost 100% higher than if you rode metro? There are not many of us who take VRE from that station and it is outlandish to charge us that much to park there. VRE could work with elected officials to address the situation; not just throw your hands in the air and state that you do not own the building.

    VRE Response
    Previously answered.

  • Ben from Manassas va asks
    I ride the Manassas line 326 every morning. Over the last month conductors have been over zealous in insuring that everyone remains seated until the train leaves crystal city. It has gotten to the point where the conductors walk the entire length of the train looking for standers before closing the door. The claim is people can't get off on time, yet there is no one trying to exit. While I am sure the occasional rider misses their stop, they have no one to blame but themselves. We need to stop pandering to the lowest common denominator, and take responsibility to make our own stops. Could you image metro with such a ludicrous policy.

    VRE Response
    We have an anti-queueing policy called "Standing Means Detraining". Information about this policy can be found here: Crews invoke this policy when we get multiple complaints from riders that standees are blocking them from exiting the train.

  • Scott from Warrenton asks
    What's to stop the crews from pulling up 10 minutes to Broad Run? They normally pull up 30 seconds before departure.

    VRE Response
    Previously answered.

  • Robert from Bristow, VA asks
    What's the deal with leaf oil this year?

    VRE Response
    Previously answered.

  • Allen from Springfield, VA asks
    What is the latest on the agreement announced several months ago between VRE & Metro over the parking fee at Franconia-Springfield?

    VRE Response
    We are still working with WMATA to finalize an arrangement for the parking at Franconia/Springfield.  We will keep everyone posted once we know more.

  • DJ from Fredericksburg asks
    Why is the 3:18 train not an Express train? There is a 1:05 and a 3:33 train.

    VRE Response
    DJ, at some point, we may offer additional limited stop trains where they make sense, but right now we have no immediate plans to do so.

  • Lesley from Fredericksburg asks
    Studying the usage statistics at, why hasn't the VRE taken some cars from the more underutilized train consists and add them to trains 307, 309 and 311 to help alleviate the clear over crowding capacity issues?

    VRE Response
    We have plans to lengthen some trains when we gain additional space for midday storage utilizing the storage track south of L'Enfant Station.  307 and 311 are already 8 car trains so they will not be lengthened, but our goal continues to give the trains with the highest demand the most cars.

  • Dave from Woodbridge asks
    Will all departure and arrival times for trains be reviewed in the near future? It would be nice if in the future the 300 Express could depart Spotsy 10-15 minutes earlier. Over the past 4+ months there has been numerous morning delays in early AM. An earlier departure time would help the people who start early at their jobs to arrive on time on a more consistent basis. Thank you!

    VRE Response
    We have no current plans to operate 300 any earlier than the current 4:54 am from Spotsylvania.

  • Hendrik from Manassas, VA asks
    Can you ask your conductors to curb the practice of people taking up two seats with their bags. There is never a conductor around when we board and try to get someone to move their bag. So they just ignore us and we have to move on because they have figured out they will ALWAYS get away with it. Because the conductors are NEVER there to enforce the rule. Conductors need to be doing this actively whenever they walk through the train.

    VRE Response
    We agree Hendrik and have asked the Keolis Transportation managers to reiterate this with the crews.

  • Elizabeth from Springfield, VA asks
    Will the WMATA construction projects planned for Summer/Fall 2019 at Franconia-Springfield impact VRE customers' access to the train platforms?

    VRE Response
    Thanks for asking Elizabeth.  We have asked WMATA for clarification on access to the elevators and VRE platform from the parking garage but have not received an answer.  As soon as we find out, we will share the information with our riders.

  • Doug from Broad Run, Virginia asks
    Please, Please convince the conductor on train 324 to stop walking into the quiet car and banging on the upper level railing with his keys or ring or whatever he uses to make that godawful loud noise that wakes the whole car up. We are all tired, most of us are sleeping and our tickets are showing. There is no need to wake up the whole car so he can avoid climbing a flight of stairs.

    VRE Response
    The Keolis Transportation Managers will share this with the crew on 324.

  • Lloyd from Broad Run asks
    Last month you advised us that trains are brought up to the platform no less than five minutes before departure. Either the train staff for Manassas 322 are unaware of this standard, they ignore the standard or the standard is not enforced by management. Please advise us why you bother to have this standard if you do not enforce it. It does not help the image of customer service that one of the conductors will stand in the doorway sipping his coffee as the train comes up the platform.

    VRE Response
    We ask that the crews bring the trains down to the platform as early as they can. However, crews inspect their trains, perform brake tests, have morning job briefings and can be quizzed on safety rules. These responsibilities are safety related and can not be altered to get the train to the platform a few minutes earlier. While we try to get trains to a platform as early as we can, our primary objective is the safe and on time operation of the trains.

  • Fayth from Manassas Park asks
    Why is raising the rates always your go-to answer for BRE's budget? It is already so expensive. Additionally, why do our FRCs have expiration dates? When we've been inconvenienced, we should be able to use at will.

    VRE Response
    Thank you for the feedback Fayth.  Our operating expenses continue to rise, especially on our major contracts for rail access, operations and maintenance.  We have been able to manage these increased needs by alternating fare increases for the riders and subsidy increases for the local jurisdictions.  Last year, there was a subsidy increase of 3%, so this year we are proposing a 3% fare increase.  If you are unable to attend one of the public hearings, please visit our website at to see the presentation regarding the Fiscal Year 2020 budget.

  • Neil from Manassas Park asks
    Are there plans for additional northbound trains in the morning past the current time and plans for southbound trains in the 2 and 7pm hours? Also, with the rumors of Crystal City winning the Amazon HQ2 bid, if true - as it is within walking distance to the Crystal City Station, ridership will definitely increase. Do you have current plans for this as well?

    VRE Response
    Thanks for the question Neil. We do not currently have any plans to operate trains outside our current operating window.  We do recognize the need to get a train in the time frame between the midday trains and 327 to better align with the work schedules of those who come up on 322, but do not have any immediate options to allow the change.

  • Darren from Linton Hall, VA asks
    Seeing all the wet leaves on the roads and sidewalks yesterday had me a little worried about the commute home, but I didn't experience any issues. It occurred to me that oak leaf oil used to be a major source of delays on the VRE at this time of year--on par with flash flood restrictions in the summertime--but it seems like it's been a few years since that was the case. What changed to make this go from a Big Problem to (apparently) No Problem?

    VRE Response
    Great question Darren.  We have learned quite a bit over the years about leaf oil and how to minimize the effects.  The worst case scenario for us is when there are a lot of leaves down, and a light mist or drizzle.  This combination makes the rails very slick.  The past few years, we have reversed the first afternoon trains so the locomotive is at the rear of the train.  This allows the train cars to be pushed over the rails to clear the oil in front of the traction motor in the locomotive, reducing slip.

    This year, the rains have been fairly heavy, which washes the leaves and oil from the rails.  The result has been very few issues to date.


  • Stacy from manassas, va asks
    Is there ever going to be consideration to expand the Manassas line train to Culpeper?

    VRE Response
    There are no plans to expand to Culpeper at this time.

  • Carlos from Woodbridge, VA asks
    We are asked to validate our tickets prior to boarding the VRE. I validated a ticket then received a notice that the train was delayed for 45 minutes. I decided to drive into work that morning and wasted that validated ticket. Can I be reimbursed?

    VRE Response
    You can request an Free Ride Certificate from

  • Damian from Bowling Green, VA asks
    How do you get in touch with the LEO coordinator?

    VRE Response
    Send an email to and we will forward it on to the LEO coordinator.

  • Rainman from Caroline county asks
    Hello VRE, First off I want to commend you for taking care of some of our presented issues. I notice that some of the conductors are still convinced that they possess Superman vision and can check farecard validations from 10 feet below the second level while waking us up instead I walking to the second level to check validated tickets. Can we get this addressed with Keolis again?

    VRE Response
    Thanks Rainman, we have shared this with the Keolis Transportation Managers here with us today.  They will remind the crews.

  • Andrea from Orange VA asks
    My employer does not offer smart benefits. Does VRE solicit participation to employers and how do I get their buy in?

    VRE Response
    Andrea, the SmartBenefits program is administered by WMATA (Metro).  If you would, please drop us a note at with your contact information and we'll ask WMATA's SmartBenefits office to reach out to your employer.

  • Ms V from Fredericksburg, Va asks
    Why has the Fredericksburg platform not been maintained as well as the other platforms? It is extremely dirty and I can see no reason for not putting up fans and heaters where the groups congregate. The City of Fredericksburg also needs to do a better job with providing safe crosswalks.

    VRE Response
    We will share your concerns with the City of Fredericksburg. We do have a project underway for concrete rehabilitation and other station improvements at the Fredericksburg station.  Stay tuned to for updates.

  • Anonymous from Broad Run asks
    I have been taking the Manassas line train 330 out of Broad run for the last 8 years, my question is why all the sudden within the last year or so the train pulls into the station at 7:10 or later. It use to arrive around 6:45 - 7:00. On cold days it would be nice to arrive a little earlier to let folks on.

    VRE Response
    Manassas Line train 330 is scheduled to depart Broad Run at 7:20 am. Having the train arrive more than 10 minutes early is a challenge considering the crew responsibilities of job briefing and equipment checks prior to departing the yard.

Welcome to the November issue of the Online Forum.  Joining us in the studio today are Kim from Amtrak, Rufus from Keolis, and Brian from CSX.

We have many questions in the queue, so let’s jump right in…