Frequently Asked Questions

+ Why is a Rail Plan needed?

The two-year action plan for moveDC, the District’s multimodal transportation plan, identified the need for a State Rail Plan that focuses on passenger and freight rail infrastructure shared by CSX, VRE, MARC, Amtrak, and Norfolk Southern.

The District does not have a State Rail Plan that complies with the Federal Railroad Administration standards under the Passenger Rail Investment and Improvement Act of 2008. While the District does not own rail right of-way or operate freight or passenger rail service, the lack of a compliant Plan exposes the District to criticism and potentially restricts access to federal funds for all projects.

The completed Plan provides a high-level strategic framework, goals, and objectives to leverage the District’s rail network for continuing economic competitiveness and quality-of-life investments while also addressing ongoing concerns about rail safety and oversight.

+ What is the purpose of a Rail Plan?

The Plan will assist the District in developing a more efficient and effective rail network, within a multimodal framework. This State Rail Plan is being developed to comply with the requirements of the Passenger Rail Investment and Improvement Act (PRIIA) of 2008, with additional guidance by the Association of American State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO) and the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA). The Plan will be submitted to FRA for review and is required for the District to be able to keep existing and gain future federal rail funding assistance.

+ What will the Plan contain?

In order to guide future freight and passenger rail services in the State, among others, the Plan will address the following topics:

  • Vision, goals, objectives, policies, and strategies can help to guide passenger and freight rail services in the District of Columbia into the future
  • The role of freight and passenger rail in the District’s multimodal transportation network
  • Funding sources are available to invest in rail infrastructure and services in the District
  • How the District’s rail network has changed over time
  • How the District’s rail network is used, and how this usage will change in the future
  • How these changes will affect the District and its communities near rail
  • Impacts of the rail network on the District’s economy, freight and passenger mobility, safety, and the environment
  • How well the District’s rail network is meeting the needs of its users, and its impact on District residents
  • Specific issues and opportunities associated with rail in the District of Columbia
  • Specific investments that would benefit passenger and freight rail in the future

Following the requirements of PRIIA, the following components will be included in the Plan:

  • Inventory of rail system, services, and facilities
  • Review of rail lines including high-speed rail and abandonments
  • Passenger rail service objectives
  • General transportation, economic, and environmental impacts on rail service
  • Long range service and investment program project list
  • Statement of public financing issues
  • Identification of rail infrastructure issues reflecting consultation with all relevant stakeholders
  • Review of passenger and freight intermodal connections
  • Review of publicly funded projects, including safety
  • Performance evaluation of passenger rail service
  • Compilation of studies and reports on high-speed rail corridor development

  • When will it be completed?


Work on the District State Rail Plan began in July 2015. The Plan was released Spring 2017.

+ How do I participate?

You can subscribe to project update emails on the right side of your screen. Information on public meetings can be found on this website. An online rail plan survey will be posted soon to the website. Please sign up for project emails to be notified when it is open. If you have any other questions please contact us for more information.