State Rail Authority
The West Virginia Railroad Maintenance Authority was formed by an act of the Legislature in 1975 to facilitate railroad transportation and commerce in the state. In 1989, it was made a division of the new West Virginia Department of Transportation so that its program might be better coordinated with an overall state transportation improvement strategy. In 1994, its name was changed to the West Virginia State Rail Authority.
The Authority performs a number of functions:
- maintains a comprehensive inventory of rail lines within the state.
- monitors proposed line abandonmnents and works to find alternatives for shippers, including short line operation to preserve essential rail service or rail to truck transfer if feasible.
- administers state responsibilities regarding federal grants to aid railroad transportation in West Virginia.
- owns and operates the 52.4-mile South Branch Valley Railroad.
- owns and oversees operation of the 132.1-mile West Virginia Central Railroad.
- assists with the establishment of short line and tourist railroad operations and promotes increased rail tourism development.
- participates in the MARC commuter rail service to Washington, DC by maintaining two train stions in the Eastern Panhandle and leasing a third for commuter use.
- "rail-banks" abandoned rail lines that may be used again if future conditions make it economically feasible and encourages the interim use of these banked lines as trails for public recreation.
The West Virginia Department of Transportation (WVDOT) has developed a State Rail Plan which is intended to serve as a framework for the state’s rail freight and passenger transportation planning activities and project development plan over the next 20 years. The plan is available for download as a PDF file (7 MB).