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VIRGINIA Railway strike would force VRE to shutdown

Numbers from VRE show that ridership on the second day of the Metro shutdown added at least 3,000 new riders from the August average.

Author: Matt Gregory
Published: 11:20 AM EDT September 14, 2022
Updated: 12:49 PM EDT September 14, 2022
ARLINGTON, Va. — New numbers from the Virginia Railway Express (VRE) show how devastating a potential freight rail strike could be for Northern Virginia commuters. For weeks state and local officials have advised commuters use VRE as a substitute for the Blue and Yellow station closures along Metro Rail.
RELATED: 6 Metro stations on Yellow, Blue Lines close for construction

RELATED: Passengers can ride VRE for free in September

However, one week into the closures VRE may not be an option.
This all started with a labor dispute. Freight railroad companies have until Friday to reach agreements with multiple labor unions. In our area CSX and Norfolk Southern are the major parties involved.
If the companies and labor unions do not reach an agreement, experts expect widespread shutdowns of railway systems across the country.
While VRE is not a freight line, it relies on those railways hosted by freight rail companies.
At the same time, WMATA’s closure of all Blue and Yellow Line Metro stations south of Reagan National Airport will impact commuting in Northern Virginia for the next six weeks. The closure of the Yellow Line bridge and tunnel across the Potomac will last 8 months.
RELATED: Yellow Line to shut down in Alexandria this fall, WMATA details plan for helping commuters over 8 months
WMATA and state officials presented VRE as an alternative during the shutdowns. VRE has offered free rail service for the month of September to all riders in Northern Virginia. It appeared as of this week to be working out in VRE’s favor.
Numbers from VRE show that ridership on the second day of the Metro shutdown added at least 3,000 new riders from the August average. A spokesperson told WUSA9, when the final numbers come out it may be as many as 5,000 more riders than the August average.
A spokesperson said the company is waiting for the automatic numbers from Alexandria and Crystal City.

However, the looming railway strike threatens to drop those numbers to zero. It’s absence would add another disruption to the Northern Virginia commute, until a labor agreement would be reached.
A spokesperson for VRE said they are recommending riders choose alternative commute options “in the event of a strike.”

The company said it is still holding out hope for a resolution by Friday. Otherwise, it could mean thousands of Virginians looking for another alternate route to commute.
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