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Rail News: Passenger Rail

VRE's AF Interlocking Project nears completion


For nearly a year, Virginia Railway Express, the Commonwealth of Virginia, Amtrak, CSX Transportation and Norfolk Southern Railway have been working on the Alexandria Franconia (AF) Interlocking Project. And now the project’s end is less than two weeks away.

The AF Interlocking is the point at which VRE’s Manassas line, which runs on NS track, meets its Fredericksburg line, which runs on CSXT track. Historically, the junction has been able to handle only a limited number of trains at slower speeds. If trains needed to change tracks, only one train could switch at a time going no faster than 10 mph. The resulting bottlenecks caused delays for both freight and passenger traffic.

But planners believe this $12.5 million project will eliminate 90 percent of interlocking-related delays. The AF Interlocking Project would create four new tracks and 18 high-speed switches, doubling the number of trains that daily can pass through the area from 80 to 160. In addition, trains will be able to travel on the straightaway at 70 mph (instead of 45 mph) and switch tracks, 45 mph (instead of 10 mph).

All necessary hardware, software, track and signals had been installed. The next step, cutting in and testing the signals, currently is under way. By Oct. 11, all the old crossover switches had been removed as had the old connection with NS.

Officials believe the project will be completed Oct. 26.

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

More News from 10/15/2001