BoS Exploring Crozet/Charlottesville Commuter Train

Buckingham Branch Engine
A Buckingham Branch engine idles in the downtown yard.

The Board of Supervisors is exploring establishing a Charlottesville/Crozet commuter train, Sean Tubbs reports for Charlottesville Tomorrow. There’s already a line running from Charlottesville to Crozet, operated by the Buckingham Branch Railroad. The BoS figures it would only get 100-200 cars off the roads each day at first, and that it would cost about $5M to get the service started. The hard costs come from the train itself, establishing fencing the existing track through town, and building a side track to allow the commuter train to pass by a CSX train or Amtrak’s Cardinal train going the other way. They’ve contacted U.S. Sen. Mark Warner to ask about funding options, and they’re looking at getting a consultant to plan it out. With the federal government looking at spending a great deal of stimulus money on transportation infrastructure, now is probably the time to be looking into this.

At $25,000 per car off the road, the cost doesn’t make a whole lot of sense, but given the powerful role that rail can play in establishing human settlement patterns, the service might be a strong incentive for concentrating development in the Crozet area. Two hundred cars now might be five hundred cars in five years. This is something that the university might be interested in helping to make happen, given their commitment to non-automobile transit among their employees.

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