As 2019 came to an end, apart from making efforts to implement the promised gun control laws, the State Democrats also promised to improve the passenger rail service of the state. The bold promised came after Governor Ralph Northam announced the CSX-Virginia deal on December 19.
As per reports revealed, the deal paves path for the construction of new rail bridge over the Potomac River. It also lays foundation for the establishment of the new rail track in the Washington-Richmond corridor.
While the deal and much of the plan is not yet finalized, credible sources have estimated that the deal will be finalized by the mid of this year and will cost $3.7 billion.
Following the deal, Virginia will purchase 225 miles of rail tracks and 350 miles of railroad right of way from CSX for $525 million that includes the purchase of around 50 percent of right of way between Washington and Richmond.
Speaking about the CSX-Virginia deal, Gov. Ralph Northam said, “We have a once-in-a-generation opportunity to make our rail system work better for everyone, both in Virginia and along the entire East Coast.”
“This agreement will change the future of transportation in Virginia, improving our ability to move people and goods across the state, and opening up potential rail service in underserved parts of the commonwealth.”
The reports also state that the plan will be covered over in two phases over a time of 10-years and will be funded equally by the federal, state and regional authorities.
The deal will also improve the frequency of more passenger trains and extend service over the weekends. It is also believed that the CSX-Virginia deal will help the state to drop the unemployment rate from 2.6 percent and register rise of employment in the construction sector from 199,200.
Furthermore, the deal will also positively impact the Virginia Railway Express’s (VRE) Fredericksburg line and the Amtrak service. The Fredericksburg line will witness the inclusion of five round-trips during a weekday to the already eight round-trip and introduce three round trips on the weekends.
On the other hand, the deal between CSX and the Virginia Railway Express will double the number of Amtrak trains in the I-95 corridor, meaning there will be service between Washington and Richmond every hour.
The CSX-Virginia deal reminds of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) Railway majorly on the aspects of improvement in infrastructure and connectivity between the destinations. The GCC Railway is also believed to increase the possibilities of intra-GCC trade, thus bolstering the relations between the countries.
By introducing policies to improve the rail system and restricting guns from the State Capitol, it seems that the Virginia Democratic Party is working to tip the voters in the favor of the Democrats for the upcoming 2020 presidential elections.