- The Washington Times - Saturday, August 27, 2005

Efforts to improve rail service in Northern Virginia could result in sporadic delays for thousands of morning commuters from tomorrow through late fall.

CSX Corp. starting tonight will replace one-third of its rail ties along 71 miles of its right-of-way between the L’Enfant station in the District and Fredericksburg. The company plans to replace 86,000 ties by November.

Misty Skipper, a CSX spokeswoman, said crews will work Sundays through Wednesdays from 7 p.m. to 4 a.m., which will give them one hour to restore signal operations before the first Virginia Railway Express (VRE) trains begin their scheduled runs from Fredericksburg and Manassas to the District.

Once the work is completed it should result in smoother rides and fewer slowdowns, which typically occur in warmer weather, when the tracks are subject to warping.

Riders using the early trains have already been notified about potential 15- to 30-minute delays.

During the first three weeks, VRE will make its Metrorail option available to morning commuters Mondays through Thursdays. Passengers will have an opportunity to board subway trains at Alexandria or Franconia-Springfield, should lengthy delays occur.

CSX said the latest work was scheduled for August through November because that was the earliest the equipment and personnel were available. Once the work is complete, the weather-related slowdowns that are common when temperatures exceed 85 degrees will not be triggered until temperatures reach the mid-90s.

Amtrak passenger trains and freight service could be affected to a lesser extent during the work period. Plans call for trains to run along a single track through the work zone in the evening and overnight, as the work is completed in phases.

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