Train Talk July 21, 2011 10:08 AM

Train Talk:A Message from the CEO
July 21, 2011 10:08 AM

Good News and Bad News

One of the questions I hear often is about the legacy Gallery cars and when VRE is going to get rid of them. The answer to that question is, “I’ve got good news and I’ve got bad news.” Since this is only a one way form of communication, you don’t get the choice of which one comes first. Truthfully, the good news leads to the bad news, so I’ll start with the good news.

On July 1, VRE issued a Request for Proposals (RFP) for 8 new rail cars with toilets. The RFP also has options for 42 additional cars: 5 cab cars, 22 cars with toilets and 15 cars without toilets. The cars are required to be compatible with our current fleet of cars. VRE has been very successful at this “option style” bidding. In 2004, VRE issued a proposal for 11 cab cars with an option for 50 additional cars. Ultimately, VRE was able to procure all 61 cars (we now actually have 71 new rail cars). In a similar procedure, VRE issued an RFP for 2 locomotives with options of up to 18 more. I am pleased to report that we were successful in this endeavor as well. Our 15th locomotive is currently in service and the remaining 5 are on their way.

Currently, I have the funding in place to definitely order the first 8 cars. I have found that it is easier to find funding for these types of purchases when the contract is already in place. There is no doubt in my mind that we will once again be able to cobble the money together to buy all 50 rail cars.

What’s the bad news, then? The bad news is that there are no “off the shelf” rail cars. You can’t walk onto a show room floor and drive home with the floor model. All of the cars have to be built specifically to VRE’s specifications. This process, unfortunately, takes time. As a result, if the RFP process goes according to schedule, the new cars won’t be available for VRE to place into service until 2013. This means that the legacy Gallery cars that are in use now will be in use for a few more years. I know that for many of you, it would be an understatement to say that you do not like these cars. Yet, there are others that I know enjoy the legacy cars (mostly for their warmth).

All I can ask is that you continue to be patient as we work through our funding options. Our future is bright and more new cars are on the way.

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Copyright (C)2011 Virginia Railway Express (VRE)

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