Work finished recently on a $14.1 million project to upgrade the Fredericksburg VRE station. (Photo by Kathy Knotts)

All aboard an updated, upgraded Fredericksburg VRE station  

by | May 22, 2024 | ALLFFP, Fredericksburg, Transportation

“Trains are cool” read the back of the high-visibility vests staff wore Tuesday. Representatives of the Virginia Railway Express (VRE) and many elected and public officials and rail enthusiasts gathered at the Fredericksburg train station to celebrate the facility’s completed rehabilitation.  

VRE CEO Rich Dalton (center) shares some of the history of the Fredericksburg train station with Stafford Supervisor Monica Gary (left), Chief Engineer Dallas Richards, and Spotsylvania Supervisor Drew Mullins (far right). (Photo by Kathy Knotts)

The $14.1 million project extended existing platforms, built a new stairway for direct access from the commuter lot, improved access to elevators for people with disabilities, added new signage, sidewalks and lighting and a fresh coat of paint. 

“At VRE, we take great pride in our stations — particularly those, like the one in Fredericksburg, that hearken back to another place in time,” said VRE CEO Rich Dalton. “The recent outpouring of unsolicited comments from riders, local businesses and residents, and other stakeholders reinforces that this project has exceeded expectations.”  

Efforts were made to restore the station to a state that resembles its appearance nearly a century ago. The Historic Fredericksburg Foundation, Inc. awarded its 2024 Preservation Spark Award to VRE for its “conservation and sensitive rehabilitation” of the station.  

“The benefits of these improvements go beyond the station itself,” said Matt Kelly, a former member of the VRE Operations Board and member of the historic foundation. “They help relieve traffic congestion and provide economic development and tourism opportunities while preserving the historic character of the city, which is critical to its future.”  

The Fredericksburg Station Improvements Project is part of the commonwealth’s $4 billion Transforming Rail in Virginia initiative and is among the first to be completed since the program was announced in 2019.  

“Transforming Rail in Virginia is a multifaceted project — we can add new stations, lay more track, and put more trains on those tracks to connect those stations,” said Jennifer DeBruhl, director of the Virginia Department of Rail and Public Transportation. “However, we need to make sure that in creating additional options and alternatives, we implement them with all Virginians in mind. VRE, here at the Fredericksburg station, has taken a massive leap forward toward doing just that.”  

VRE Chief Engineer Dallas Richards shows off the upgrades at the Fredericksburg station. (Photo by Kathy Knotts.)

DeBruhl added that the upgrades are about more than just the tracks and the trains. 

“It’s the environment that we create in our stations that brings people here. The Fredericksburg station connects so many Virginians to Washington, D.C., and vice versa, and now it’s equipped to connect even more.”  

VRE is a joint project of the Northern Virginia Transportation Commission and the Potomac and Rappahannock Transportation Commission. As the nation’s 13th-largest commuter rail service, VRE connects parts of Central and Northern Virginia with Washington, D.C. Its two lines, Manassas and Fredericksburg, serve 19 stations, including two — L’Enfant and Union Station — in the District of Columbia.   

“This is a statewide transportation system, which is now looking to step beyond just being the commuter rail service into being something more,” added Kelly, who mentioned VRE is considering the addition of reverse commutes and weekend hours in the future.

“We’re not just opening a refurbished and expanded train station in Fredericksburg, Virginia. We are helping to reduce congestion on the I-95 corridor. We are opening up more opportunities for economic development and tourism. By providing our residents with more employment opportunities and time with their families, you’re contributing to their better quality of life.” 

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