US technical professional services company Jacobs has been selected to provide consultations for the Virginia Passenger Rail Authority (VPRA) as the state body ramps up mobility and infrastructure programmes.
VPRA has recently embarked on a passenger rail-focused plan: Transforming Rail in Virginia. Jacobs has joined the project on an initial one-year basis to support the planning, design, construction and overall maintenance of projects of Transforming Rail in Virginia.
Key tenets of the VPRA plan are the doubling of state-supported Amtrak services and increasing the local Virginia Railway Express over the next ten years. A crucial part of the plan is to acquire right-of-way on the state’s rail systems, which involves reworking the passenger and freight operations to give priority to passenger services.
Jacobs will assist the VPRA by leveraging data from market analysis and travel demand forecasting and building “comprehensive support” for the extension of Amtrak services and the restoration of closed Amtrak lines.
The commuter service between Richmond and Washington, DC is a highlighted target for improved regular services. Transforming Rail in Virginia set out an aim for a “near-hourly service” on the I-95 corridor.
Passenger rail services between Norfolk, Newport News and Roanoke were increased in 2022 but the VPRA intends for Jacobs’ data and support will persuade Amtrak to extend the line southwest to Christiansburg and the New River Valley.
The long-term aim in the region is to prove the case for high-speed rail across Virginia, linking to the populous US Northeast Corridor and connecting Virginia to the rest of the US by rail.
Final contract details have not been released, but VPRA said the deal with Jacobs is worth up to $10m for the first year, with an option to renew for three further years. It is the second new Jacobs-VPRA contract worth in the region of $10m per year.
The technical consultants have worked with the Virginia state Department of Rail and Public Transportation for at least a decade on various projects.