Virginia Railway Express train (Photo: George Tenney/VRE)

USA: Commuter operator Virginia Railway Express closed a public bond sale on June 28 which will enable it to make a $119·2m contribution towards the state’s purchase of a CSX line in the Interstate 95 corridor as part of the $4bn Transforming Rail in Virginia programme.

‘This bond issuance demonstrates our commitment to revolutionising rail travel in the region’, said VRE CEO Rich Dalton. ‘As a major beneficiary of Transforming Rail in Virginia, VRE has worked to identify opportunities to support this important initiative. In addition to funds from the bond issuance, VRE will contribute another $75m over the next 10 years on a pay-as-you-go basis, bringing our total financial support to nearly $195m.’

‘Our Transforming Rail in Virginia initiative is an immense investment in passenger rail not seen in decades’, said DJ Stadtler, executive director of the Virginia Passenger Rail Authority which is managing the programme. ‘This financial contribution from our VRE partners will enable us to increase and improve service, making VRE a viable option for even more Virginians.’

VRE said demand for the bonds was strong based on a double-A credit rating, a green bond designation and backing by revenues from the Commuter Rail Operating & Capital Fund which receives $15m/year from motor fuel tax revenues collected by VRE’s parent bodies the Northern Virginia and Potomac & Rappahannock transportation commissions. The final maturity date for the entire bond series is June 1 2052.

VRE’s additional $75m contribution to TRV also will come from the CROC Fund.

VRE will also support TRV through station and infrastructure improvements, with its $1·1bn capital improvements programme being more than two-thirds funded. Projects include new and longer platforms.