Fort Lee soldier transport trains will add rail traffic through Chester

Once a new travel initiative is implemented, a military convoy that now travels Interstate 95 from Fort Lee to Fort A.P. Hill will be replaced by an Army-owned six- to 10-car passenger train, according to information released by Fort Lee officials.

The passenger train, which will be home stationed at Fort Lee, will be a chartered, Special Movement Train operated under contract to the Army by AMTRAK. An average of 800 passengers will be transported to Fort A. P. Hill and returned to Fort Lee approximately 40 times a year, about three times a month. Currently, almost 40 trains a day pass along the CSX rail line in Chesterfield.

This will be a way for Fort Lee soldiers who routinely train at Fort A. P. Hill to have a safer way of getting there. The increase in soldiers training at Fort Lee due to the Base Realignment and Closure law (BRAC) would mean additional buses and tractor trailers traveling I-95 to transport them to Fort A.P. Hill for training. This increase would be between 19 and 25 buses, plus two tractor trailers for cargo, making the weekly 150-mile round trip on an already busy stretch of interstate and rural high way to reach their destination.

According to information released by Keith Desbois, media relations officer at the Fort Lee Public Affairs Office, this additional volume of traffic along I-95 is a safety concern for Army leadership, not only for the soldiers, but for the public, as well. Given the concern for safe execution of training, a research study was conducted to determine the feasibility of rail transport as a substitution for busing.

Removing the large number of convoys from Virginia highways will prove to be a safer means of transportation for soldiers and result in safer use of I-95 and adjoining routes for the general public, and is comparable in cost to the large convoys of buses and semi-trailers currently used.

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