Regional Rail Freight

Metropolitan Washington is uniquely positioned along an important East Coast north-south and east-west rail corridor. The century old railroads are also working on improvements to modernize their infrastructure.

CSX and Norfolk Southern (NS) railroads are both involved in the TPB Freight Subcommittee meetings and activities, such as the development of the National Capital Region Freight Plan. Freight Subcommittee meetings cover topics from all modes, and some meetings have involved tours of rail facilities.

What Freight Railroads Serve the Region?

Class 1 freight railroads CSX Transportation and Norfolk Southern operate in the region. In addition, commuter and passenger rail services often share the freight rail lines through lease agreements with freight railroads. An average of 80 to 90 trains travel through the CSX Washington DC Corridor daily, the majority of which are Virginia Railway Express (VRE), Maryland Area Regional Commuters (MARC), and Amtrak trains.

CSX Transportation (CSX)

CSX rail emerged from the historic Baltimore and Ohio Railroad beginning in 1828. Today, CSX has a 21,000-mile network that covers 23 states and serves over two-thirds of the American consumption market.

CSX has undertaken a major initiative known as the "National Gateway" to improve rail service and efficiencies along its mid-Atlantic to mid-West corridor. This is an effort to clear 61 obstructions in six states to allow for double-stack train service, in addition to five new and two upgraded intermodal transfer facilities. Thirteen projects fall within the region. The Virginia Avenue Tunnel is the most complicated and expensive project in the region at $160 million. Its goal is to raise and replace the roof of the century old tunnel, to allow for double-stack and double-track service. The estimated total cost for all National Gateway projects is $842 million.

Norfolk Southern (NS)

Norfolk Southern's railroad spans most states east of the Mississippi. It operates approximately 21,000 route miles in 22 eastern states and the District of Columbia. The NS railway through Virginia and Maryland parallel the major East Coast interstates.

The NS "Crescent Corridor Intermodal Freight Program" is a major rail initiative to upgrade the NS north-south route. The project is divided into three phases of upgrades. The effort will link 13 states between Louisiana and New Jersey with track improvements and clearance projects to allow for double-track and double-stacked train service. The total cost of the project is $2.5 billion.