Draft EIS. Comment #6: Missed Goals

Missed Goal

The Tier II draft EIS (Environmental Impact Statement) has the following statement on the first page,

The purpose of the DC2RVA Project is to increase capacity to deliver higher speed passenger rail, expand commuter rail, and accommodate growth of freight rail service in an efficient and reliable multimodal rail corridor.

The project in its current form does not meet the specified goals. Specifically:

  • It does not provide true high speed rail service between Richmond and Washington D.C. High speed trains have a straight away speed of 180 mph or more. This project does not come close to achieving that target.
  • Today’s Amtrak trains are frequently quite empty. “Expanding commuter rail” will merely increase the number of empty trains. A true commuter service would have trains leaving every 20 minutes.
  • The growth in the freight capacity is an assumption that may not hold up. Data published by the Association of American Railroads shows that the number of carloads in the year 2017 to date is below the number for the years 2015 and 2016.
  • The term “multi-modal rail corridor” presumably means that both passenger and freight trains run on the same tracks as they do now. The DRPT goals would be better achieved by separating passenger and freight trains.

I suggest that the DRPT go back to the drawing board and come up with a plan that addresses the goals that it has set for itself.

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