Long-Delayed Dulles Rail Line Gets Go-Ahead

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There's new momentum for a much-delayed project to open a rail line from suburban Dulles International Airport to Washington, D.C. But the train was first proposed as early as 1964, so don't buy your tickets quite yet.

ROBERT SIEGEL, host:

As someone who moved to Washington more than 30 years ago, I remember when we had to apologize for many things about this city. The good restaurants that didn't exist, the elegant old train station whose insides had been stripped down to something worthy of a Greyhound bus terminal.

Nowadays, the restaurants are here and the elegant train station is restored. But one amenity befitting a world-class capital city is missing. And we were reminded of that fact by today's headline on the front page of The Washington Post: Dulles rail gets federal approval. That's right, soon you night be able to fly into Dulles International Airport and actually take a train to Washington, DC 23 miles away.

(Soundbite of song, "People Get Ready")

ROBERT SIEGEL, host: No train has been more delayed than this one. In 1964, the FAA's master plan for Dulles recommended a train line, 1964. And when did Virginia's transportation board approve a rail line? 1990.

(Soundbite of song, "People Get Ready")

SIEGEL: A case of public sector inertia at work you say? Well, in the Reagan years, the idea was actually privatized. There was a company called Dulles Access Rapid Transit, Inc. and was known as Dart for short, but not for long. In the Clinton in 1994, local officials did more studies. And proving that you can keep a good idea down, the 21st century brought still more studies. And they started collecting taxes and higher tolls to pay for it. In January, the federal government said no. And then today's surprise news, a change of heart. The project is once again, as dreamers would say - on track.

(Soundbite of song, "People Get Ready")

BLOCK: This is NPR, National Public Radio.

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