Virginia, Norfolk Southern in Talks to Buy Manassas Line

By Railfan & Railroad Staff

The Virginia Passenger Rail Authority announced last week that it is in preliminary discussions with Norfolk Southern to purchase the Manassas Line and to pursue an option to extend passenger rail service to the New River Valley via the N-Line. While negotiations are in the early stages, VPRA and NS have established a mutually beneficial framework for both passenger and freight rail services.

Currently, Virginia Railway Express offers eight roundtrips on the Manassas Line with stops at Broad Run, Manassas, Manassas Park, Burke Centre, Rolling Road, Backlick Road, Alexandria, Crystal City, L’Enfant, and Washington Union Station. Purchasing the Manassas Line would give VPRA the flexibility to work with VRE to expand service beyond the current traditional commuting option with northbound trains operating in the morning hours and southbound trains in the afternoon. 

After receiving more information regarding the cost and timeframe for delivering service along the Virginian Line — per a 2022 agreement with Norfolk Southern — VPRA revisited negotiations with NS to find a more cost-effective and timelier alternative on the N-Line. Extending service to the New River Valley via the N-Line would allow VPRA to offer passenger rail service to NS’ Cambria Yard in Christiansburg, which served rail passengers from 1904 to 1979. It could potentially reduce the cost and accelerate VPRA’s plans to expand passenger rail service to the area. 

“VPRA exists to promote, sustain, and expand the availability of passenger and commuter rail in the Commonwealth, and with these negotiations, we are working towards that mission,” said Jennifer DeBruhl, Director of the Virginia Department of Rail & Public Transportation and VPRA’s Board Chair.  

“We value our relationship with VPRA and appreciate the role the authority plays in advancing passenger rail in the Commonwealth of Virginia,” said Norfolk Southern Senior Vice President and Chief Strategy Officer Mike McClellan. “We look forward to continuing to partner on projects like this that stand to serve the interests of our communities while also balancing the needs of our freight customers and the economy we support.”

This article was posted on: June 19, 2024