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The Virginia Department of Rail and Public Transportation (DRPT) announced late last week that Michael McLaughlin has been named chief of rail transportation.McLaughlin joined the department after 20 years of service with the Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) and U.S. Congress.At DRPT, he will develop and execute all DRPT freight- and passenger-rail initiatives, according to a DRPT press release. As CTA's deputy chief of staff, McLaughlin helped the CTA president oversee infrastructure, planning, finance, government relations and communications departments. He also served as the point person on projects such as the $2 billion Red-Purple Line modernization, which recently received a $1 billion grant from the U.S. Department of Transportation.Before he served in the CTA president's office, McLaughlin spent four years as vice president of planning and federal affairs at the CTA, where he managed planning for long-range mega projects. Prior to joining the CTA, McLaughlin spent 12 years as a senior transportation aide in the U.S. House of Representatives and U.S. Senate. He also is a former transportation director for the Metropolitan Planning Council in Chicago.