By Greg Peppers
Beginning Monday The Virginia Raliway Express will have a new operator. Amtrak’s 18-year stint running the VRE ended on Friday and Keolis Rail Services America is now taking over operations of the commuter rail service.
Keolis is a subsidiary of a company based in France. The takeover comes almost nine months after it was awarded an $85 million five-year operations and maintenance contract.
Keolis has hired 80 new employees from across the country and conducted its first dry run on July 5th.
Steve Townsend is Executive Vice President of Keolis and he says the new staff has gone through rigorous training. He also says they will soon be part of the unions that represent the engineers and conductors.
Officials with Keolis say the only changes riders will notice on Monday are the new faces, new uniforms and improved customer service.
Members of the Federal Railroad Administration will be on every train all next week to monitor the transition.