Thanks for another month of great questions.  If we did not make it to your question, please submit it to and put "Online Forum" in the subject.

We'll see you back here on February 6th, if we don't see you on the train!


Rich, Chris, al.

  • Walter from Woodbridge, VA asks
    Those center doors in the train where you board and get to the seats nearly hit me frequently because it doesn't stay open during boarding or deboarding. Is there anything that can be done about this?

    VRE Response
    The doors automatically close to help manage the temperature of the seating areas.  

  • Ryder from Spotsylvania asks
    The yellow steps for the short platforms: Some conductors put them in the vestibule, but they are often stashed in the luggage rack. It seems like the racks are in pretty high demand, so that if you have something that won't fit anywhere else, like an oversize suitcase or a folding bike, it's tough to find a place to put it if you get on after the first couple of stops. Is there a policy on the aid-steps, and where they should be stored? Thanks.

    VRE Response
    The step boxes should be stored in the luggage rack, however, if the space is needed, the conductor will move it to another location.

  • Mike from Woodbridge asks
    Another parking question. Does PW County PD patrol the parking structure in Woodbridge? There are cars that have been obviously parked there for a long time (by the amount of dust and dirt on them).

    VRE Response
    PWC does patrol the station.  We have noticed several cars which look abandoned and will have them removed.  Our Chief Safety Officer is working on it with PWC.

  • Tammy from asks
    If you pre-answer questions, why not just post them all up at one time? Instead of making it look like you are answering them one at a time?

    VRE Response
    Not all questions are answered in advance, and many which are answered in advance are enhanced once we have everyone in the room who may offer different information or perspectives.  

  • Walter from Woodbridge VA asks
    Are you going to be going to the Store schedule for the rest of the government shutdown?

    VRE Response
    We plan to continue with operating on our regular schedule.

  • Angie from Lorton, VA asks
    How come some of your messages use the new format and some are just plain text?

    VRE Response
    We are still in the process of implementing the new format, and some of the Train Talks related to service have yet to be converted.  You should see everything in the new format soon.

  • Cletus from Woodbridge, VA asks
    What's the status of parking availability page for Woodbridge?

    VRE Response
    As mentioned in an earlier question for Davin, once we have the system fully tested and know the numbers are accurate, we'll add the information to the website.

  • Dick from Wilderness asks
    How long can you operate with reduced ridership during the federal government shutdown?

    VRE Response
    Our plan is to operate our regular schedule for the duration.

  • Michael from Annandale, VA asks
    Hi VRE!, A couple of questions (and a suggestion for some fellow riders, tucked in): I notice that the longer trains take a long time to unload at L'Enfant mostly because folks from the cars that don't make the platform have to walk through several cars to exit the train. I think efficiency could be really improved by lengthening the platform. Is that in the long-term plan? It seems more acute at L'Enfant because of the volume of people exiting than I notice at other stations. I was hoping you could provide an update on Springfield parking. It seems like the last few months the answer is that VRE is working on something with WMATA and will "announce soon." I don't want to complain (because for the most part, VRE is a great commute), but what's the deal? I know there's the option to park at the mall, take a bus or whatever, but the fact of the matter is that extra time makes taking any kind of public transportation less competitive with just driving. As an alternative to mall parking, I'd suggest to my fellow riders to consider just using the Manassas Line Backlick Rd. Station, which is only 3 miles away from Springfield and has free parking (although it's sometimes full mid-week by the time of the last 2 morning trains). And regarding the Backlick station, I'd encourage VRE to make one of the lanes of the western exit an entrance instead. The two exit lanes are never used at the same time because the traffic on Hechinger Rd. doesn't accommodate it, and many people enter through the exit to save a few seconds of time in the morning. If you set up a camera or just had someone watch for a few hours in the morning you'd see that (I'm guessing here) somewhere close to 1 out of 5 cars enters that way. I don't know how your parking counter system works, but I suspect you're getting very inaccurate data for this station. Thanks for a great commute in 2018 (other than the summer...) and looking forward to all the improvements this year.

    VRE Response
    Thanks for the comments/questions Michael, We'll try and hit them all.

    There are long-term plans for L'Enfant,

    We do have a solution for the parking at Franconia/Springfield, but we are not quite ready to implement.  As soon as we have details, we will communicate them to everyone.

    You are correct the parking counters at Backlick are not accurate due to cars entering through the exits and vice-versa.

  • Davin from Woodbridge, VA asks
    Last week I read an article in The Washington Post discussing the Wi-Fi on Amtrak trains in the Northeast corridor. Riders who need to use the Wi-Fi for work, complain that it is slow and spotty at best. I wouldn't want poor Wi-Fi on VRE trains.

    VRE Response
    Thanks Davin.  That is precisely why we do not have WiFi at this point.  We continually look for technical solutions which would provide a quality, reliable service capable of supporting the quantity of riders we have on VRE trains.

  • Davin from Woodbridge, VA asks
    Why does the parking availability page not feature the Woodbridge Station? You have counters installed at the garage entrance, which is never completely full

    VRE Response
    The parking counters are still being tested and calibrated at many stations.  As soon as we have accurate information to show for each station, we'll put a dashboard on the website to include each station.

  • Connie from Fredericksburg asks
    I have seen this question asked in the past and I have also experienced the same issue and please no canned response this time: When there is an issue and we email to "Gotrains", we 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 "Gotrains". Your response was to the effect of that concerns are asked to be in writing which I can also understand for employer back up purposes, but it would be nice for your staff to let us know that the issue has been handled. You also indicate that your staff should be able to address issues. They don't -- merely tell you to send an email to "Gotrains" which doesn't respond. As the old saying goes: Communication is the key to any successful business. Communication would be nice in this situation.

    VRE Response
    Thanks for the feedback Connie.  Most issues can be handled immediately by the person taking the call.  In the event we need information to share with another staff member or contractor to resolve an issue, we generally ask for a written version to make sure we're sharing accurate information.

    Follow-up closes the loop on communications, so we agree on the importance.  When possible, we will follow-up.  Having contact information in the Gotrains email allows for better follow-up.  If there is something you feel has not been addressed, send it to, add Online Forum to the subject line, and it will come directly to us.

  • Davin from Woodbridge, VA asks
    I don't know why people open the vestibule door so early and keep holding it open before we arrive at the station. Some people standing on the steps will put their hands on the door to hold it. That is not necessary. Some open it early to chat with the conductor. Keeping it open long when it is cold outside let's cold air in. I prefer the door stay closed until the train is stopping on the platform, it should not be open when we are approaching/entering the station or when the automatic announcement comes on.

    VRE Response
    We agree Davin.  Send us specifics on trains/conductors and we'll get it addressed.  We'll also ask conductors to make announcements for cars where no one is stationed.

  • Bill from Fredericksburg, VA asks
    With all the rules about queueing and not sitting on the stairs, why is it not enforced? People still queue making it difficult to get to the restrooms and then back to your seat, and people still sit on stairs. VRE conductors do not say a word to anybody. I cannot think of a customer service solution or I would give one instead of just complaining.

    VRE Response
    Queueing and Stairwell sitting should be addressed whenever seen by a conductor.  In most cases, we see the conductors making the effort to eliminate queueing and keep stairwells clear, and we have done what we can to assist with signage as reminders.  If you see specific instances of conductors not making the effort, please send those to us at and add Online Forum to the subject line.  It is difficult to manage if passengers move or temporarily vacate the stairs when a conductor is present, but then resume the behavior once he/she is gone.

  • David from Manassas asks
    If your going to run 8 car trains, then all 8 cars should be open for passengers. Crowding a train while 2 cars remain empty is crazy. Part of riding the VRE during the holidays is knowing your going to have seat options. Not the case on Monday. Also tickets remain not being checked by some conductors. Rode 324 this morning and no checks, all while the conductors talked in the vestibule between stops. But still had time to make an announcement about the grace period last day.

    VRE Response
    Thanks for the feedback David.  While we do have some reverse flow trains on the regular schedule which operate with only 6 of 8 cars open due to low passenger count, when we operate an "S" schedule, we utilize all of our longest train sets so if crowding becomes an issue those extra cars are available.  The crews were instructed to make all cars available if necessary, and not to wait until crowding was an issue to open additional cars.  We have shared your comments with the Keolis Transportation Managers so they can address with the crews.  If you can give us some specifics on which trains you rode on Monday, that would be helpful.  Please send to and include Online Forum in the subject.

  • Meghan from Arlington, VA asks
    Will the government shutdown have any impact on VRE service?

    VRE Response
    VRE will continue to operate our full schedule.

  • Davin from Woodbridge, VA asks
    Starting the new year with a delay this morning was not good. I hate that Train #304 causes Train #306 to be delayed because they are scheduled so close to either. Just because Train #304 is late doesn't mean Train #306 has to follow slowly and get delayed. Train #306 was frequently delayed in the fall of 2018 due to other train movement which VRE needs to work on.

    VRE Response
    Sorry Davin.  We apologize for the delay getting 304 out of the yard this morning.  There is no valid excuse for the delay.  Both trains were able to make up time enroute so they arrived at Union Station within the 5 minute window to be considered on time.  We know this doesn't help those of you who were waiting on the delayed trains at your origination stations, but at least the impact of the delay was minimized for most riders by the time you arrived at L'Enfant and Union Station.

  • Leslie Chumbley from Manassas VA asks
    Does the VRE coordinate with freight lines to prevent freight trains from blocking commuter access to trains stations during commuter train hours? Very annoying to stand on the oppposite side of the tracks and watch your VRE train come and go because a freight train is blocking all cross points.

    VRE Response
    We appreciate the frustration Leslie, we are following up with Norfolk Southern on this morning's train, but generally they keep the equipment away from the Manassas crossings during our operating windows.  We apologize for the inconvenience.

  • Michael from Fredericksburg, VA asks
    Why was Alexandria Station taken off the (L) category a few months ago? Can this designation be restored so trains can arrive onetime or earlier and stations going north in the morning rush? We often get to Union Station a couple minutes past the published time and we miss connecting trains.

    VRE Response
    Great question Michael.  When VRE first began operations, there were very few passengers utilizing the service to travel between Alexandria and Union Station.  Over the years, Alexandria has become a more popular origination station.  Local bus and shuttle providers scheduled their trips to the station based on our schedule and often their passengers were arriving after the train had already departed, ahead of the posted schedule time.  When we are able to make adjustments to the existing schedule, this will be taken into account so we can eliminate unnecessary dwell time at Alexandria.

  • Broke in Burke from asks
    This is not so much a question as a plea. On the Friday before Christmas, I parked well within the lines in an end space in the Burke Centre parking deck. When I drove home that night, a grinding, scraping noise was coming from the front end of the car. I looked, and saw that the bumper on the passenger side was detached. Someone had hit the car while it was parked. It is going to cost me over $1,000 to fix the broken clip that is supposed to hold the bumper in place. That money could have gone toward a new hearing aid for a severely disabled family member, but not anymore. I'm not asking for the careless, uncaring driver who did it to come forward. That would be asking too much, I'm quite sure. I *am* asking that people stop driving like maniacs in the deck and realize that your actions have consequences, even if you yourself do not suffer them. Thank you.

    VRE Response
    Thank you for the note.  We'll share it here on the forum and will forward to Fairfax County so they are aware.

  • Sun from Manassas asks
    Why does it sometimes appear that more tickets are sold than there are actual seats? If you're a monthly ticket purchaser or whether you purchased a day pass, you should be able to have a seat at all times. I do understand that there's are multiple trains, however, its disappointing at times when you're paying to ride a train and there are NO available seats. Standing should not ever be the end resort. Secondly, is there going to be a operatin train running between the first Manassas Northbound train and the second Manassas Northbound train?

    VRE Response
    Thanks for the question Sun, 

    VRE does not do reserved seating or sell tickets for specific trains.  Passengers are free to choose which train best fits their schedule.  Some trains are more crowded than others, and on some occasions passengers stand for a portion of the trip until seats open up.  Check out to see which trains currently have available capacity to help ensure you get a seat.

    Longer term, we are working on projects which will allow us to add capacity by adding cars to some trains.

  • Joseph from Clifton, VA asks
    Is it possible to transfer a VRE mobile ticket purchase through VRE mobile for a 10-day ride ticket?

    VRE Response
    Joseph, if you need to swap the mobile ticket for a paper ticket, you will need to stop by our office on King Street in Alexandria. Keep in mind, the ten ride is that, not a ten day ticket.

  • JJ from Alexandria, VA asks
    I have my monthly ticket on my iPhone. It is validated on the first day I use it. Later in the month, midway through my trip, the conductor announces to passengers to have their tickets out. Although I used the iPhone earlier that morning to check the status of my train, it won't open for some unknown reason, despite repeated attempts. As a result, I cannot display my monthly ticket to the conductor. What happens?

    VRE Response
    Not sure if this is hypothetical or not JJ, but if a passenger cannot display a validated ticket when asked by the conductor, a summons will be issued.  In this case, with proof of a purchased monthly ticket prior to receiving the summons, the court will waive the summons. 

  • Dave from Springfield, VA asks
    Can the windscreens at L'Enfant be removed? They seem to serve no real purpose and create bottlenecks around the benches.

    VRE Response
    Thanks for the question Dave, we have a project in the planning phase to widen the platform at L'Enfant to help address any bottlenecks.  In the meantime, the windscreens do serve a purpose and will need to stay in place.

  • frank from atlanta asks
    What is the status of the new storage tracks NE of US ? Do you have any idea when they are finished how will that change operations ?

    VRE Response
    The project is underway for a proposed storage yard north of Union Station.  Updates on the project can be seen on our website at  Once completed, a new storage yard, combined with expansions of our maintenance and storage facilities at Broad Run and Spotsylvania will allow us to add capacity by lengthening our trains.

Happy New Year!  We hope everyone had a safe and happy holiday season.

Welcome to the first version of the Online Forum for 2019.  Joining us in the studio today are John and Paul from Keolis, and Brian from CSX.


On to the questions!