News & Reviews News Wire Virginia and Charlotte, N.C., notify regulators of intent to acquire Norfolk Southern routes

Virginia and Charlotte, N.C., notify regulators of intent to acquire Norfolk Southern routes

By Bill Stephens | June 11, 2024

NS will retain freight rights on the lines that will host passenger and commuter service

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Two commuter trains side by side
Virginia Railway Express trains meet in Alexandria, Va., in December 2011. George W. Hamlin

WASHINGTON – Virginia and Charlotte, N.C., have notified federal regulators that they intend to acquire portions of Norfolk Southern main lines in order to expand passenger and commuter service.

In a filing with the Surface Transportation Board this week, the Virginia Passenger Rail Authority said its acquisition of the NS Manassas Line, as well as operating agreements covering trackage in southwest Virginia, should be exempt from board review.

Virginia will acquire the Manassas Line between milepost 10.76 and 32.75, as well as the adjacent Seminary Passage from milepost 9.25 to milepost 10.76. VPRA also will acquire a passenger rail operating easement on the lines between milepost 32.75 and milepost 33.6. The deal will permit more frequent Virginia Railway Express commuter service to and from Washington Union Station.

VPRA also will gain rights to add more Amtrak service between Alexandria, Va., and Roanoke, Va., which later will be extended to a new station in Radford, in the New River Valley.

In southwestern Virginia, the commonwealth will obtain operating rights over NS between Roanoke station at milepost N257.5 and either milepost N289.86 in Christiansburg or milepost NB300.0 in Radford for a layover facility.

Meanwhile, NS will re-acquire the V-Line from VPRA. The passenger authority had acquired the route in 2022 as part of a plan to extend Amtrak service to Christiansburg. VPRA now will focus on developing passenger service on the parallel N-Line, which will be able to be launched faster and require fewer capital improvements.

This map details the Virginia Passenger Rail Authority’s acquisition of Norfolk Southern’s Manassas Line. VPRA via STB
The Virginia Passenger Rail Authority plans to extend Amtrak service beyond Roanoke into the New River Valley under a new agreement with Norfolk Southern. VPRA via STB

In Charlotte, meanwhile, the city will acquire 29.04 miles of the NS O-Line between Charlotte and Mooresville, N.C., according to a regulatory filing this week. The line will host an expansion of the Charlotte Area Transit System in order to link northern suburbs with Charlotte.

NS will retain the right to operate freight trains over the routes in Virginia and North Carolina.

The City of Charlotte, N.C., will acquire 29 miles of Norfolk Southern’s O-Line for eventual commuter service. Charlotte via STB

4 thoughts on “Virginia and Charlotte, N.C., notify regulators of intent to acquire Norfolk Southern routes

  1. Nimbys will be out in full force on the O-Line as lots of new housing developments have been built next to the ROW btw Charlotte and Mooresville. There should be litigation blocking laws that prevent someone from moving next to a RR and then suing for a nuisance.

  2. I’m wondering how if at all it impacts NS’s Van Dorn Yard/Transload facility.

    Also isn’t there some interchange with CSX around near ‘the horn track’ since that’s under this purchase agreement?

    1. As for the Manassas Line, it won’t matter. Most of the traffic is VRE and Amtrak anyhow. NS only runs two or three trains a day and they’re at night.

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