The Virginia Railway Express is searching for a new CEO after the operations board announced Friday that it was parting ways with CEO Doug Allen after seven years.

The board has recommended that Rich Dalton, the commuter rail service's deputy CEO and chief operating officer, serve as acting CEO while a leadership search is underway. Dalton has been with the system for 10 years and served as acting CEO in 2012.

Operations Board Chair Katie Cristol praised Allen for "an excellent job leading VRE through a period of significant growth."

"He helped professionalize the organization, added important staff, led the development of strategic and finance plans to guide the organization over the next decade, and has been a leading voice for transit in both the Commonwealth and throughout the country," Cristol said.

The Operations Board will be looking for a new CEO with strong leadership qualities as VRE moves to the next level, Cristol said in a news release, pointing to the challenges of managing a growing staff and navigating an increasingly complex environment for passenger rail in the crowded Mid-Atlantic corridor. 

VRE is governed jointly by the Potomac and Rappahannock Transportation Commission and the Northern Virginia Transportation Commission. Final action on Allen’s departure and Dalton’s appointment as interim CEO will be taken at the commission meetings in November.

The 12th largest commuter rail service in the U.S., VRE’s mission is to provide safe, cost effective, accessible, reliable, convenient, and customer responsive commuter-oriented passenger rail service.

The 4.5 million rides the railroad provides annually in Northern Virginia and Washington D.C. remove some 100 million vehicle miles from the region’s interstates. Learn more at


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