RD600 - Final Report: Bedford, VA – Intercity Passenger Rail Service Study - November 2016

Executive Summary:
The Virginia Department of Rail and Public Transportation (DRPT), Amtrak, Norfolk Southern Railway, and the City of Roanoke are extending Amtrak Route 46 from Lynchburg, VA to Roanoke, VA with service beginning in the fall of 2017. The Town of Bedford, Virginia has requested service to Bedford be added as a part of the Lynchburg to Roanoke expansion. DRPT has stated that two years of ridership data is necessary on the expanded route to Roanoke before any changes are considered to Route 46 service.

In 2016, the Virginia General Assembly included a line item in the State Budget (HB30) that states:

“The Department of Rail and Public Transportation shall evaluate both the costs of providing service to the Town of Bedford as well as the available funding and provide this information to the Chairmen of the House Committees on Transportation and Appropriations, the Senate Committees on Transportation and Finance, and the Joint Commission on Transportation Accountability no later than December 1, 2016.”

The purpose of this study is to evaluate the cost and infrastructure needs associated with providing intercity passenger rail service to the Town of Bedford, and identify available funding sources. This study does not recommend for or against service. This study provides an order of magnitude approach to explore the infrastructure requirements and cost of establishing a passenger rail stop in Bedford, VA.

When providing a cost analysis for a station location in Bedford, it is important to understand there may be additional network improvements outside of the Town limits such as sidings, crossovers, signal improvements, or those otherwise necessary to accommodate additional service, or additional stops introduced by a new station. Those network improvements are typically modeled through a study that exceeds the scope and timeline of this report, and are not part of the cost analysis provided for a station in this report.

A summary of some of the findings are:

• The infrastructure would require an approximate capital investment between $5.7 million and $11.4 million depending on final site and platform design.

• A high level platform at the site ranges from $9 million to $11.4 million with a mid-range point of $9.9 million. A high level platform requires an additional 1,300 feet of passenger rail siding.

• A low level platform ranges between $5.7 million and $7.3 million with a mid-point of $6.3 million. Low level platforms present some ADA accessibility challenges.

• The local preferred station site selected by a Town of Bedford study would require relocating utility infrastructure including overhead powerlines and underground water infrastructure.

• The 2017 extension of Route 46 to Roanoke, VA is projected to add an additional 38,000 riders annually once the route is extended from Lynchburg to Roanoke, VA. By including a passenger rail stop in Bedford, VA it is estimated to add an additional 2,800 riders per year to the Amtrak Route 46/Northeast Corridor.

• Increasing the route by 2,800 passengers a year would decrease Virginia’s Amtrak operating payment by approximately $170,000 annually.

Potential funding sources for the capital investment in infrastructure include federal transportation grants (such as USDOT TIGER and FRA programs); state funding, local funding and public-private partnerships. The following table lists identified funding programs.

Funding Program: Intercity Passenger Rail Operating and Capital Fund (IPROC)
Administered By: DRPT

Funding Program: Rail Enhancement Fund (REF)
Administered By: DRPT

Funding Program: Intercity Passenger Rail Service Corridor Capital Assistance Program
Administered By: USDOT

Funding Program: Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER)
Administered By: USDOT