Preparing to Celebrate 200 Years of Rail In Virginia

Richard L. Beadles, director of the Virginia Rail Policy Institute, gave a compelling lecture at the October 8, 2008 meeting of the Senior Statement of Virginia. His presentation was entitled "Preparing to Celebrate 200 Years of Rail In Virginia". SSV President Fred Terry, a distinguished railroader in his own right, moderated the program.


Dick Beadles is a 71-year-old retiree who considers himself to be an independent rail and transportation analyst. An advocate of rail and transit development, Beadles believes that a major shift in national transportation infrastructure funding and development policies and priorities will be necessary in order to effectively address current and future energy, environmental, quality of life, and global economic competitiveness challenges.    

He currently serves as a board member and a fellow of the Virginia Rail Policy Institute (VRPI), a private, not-for-profit, activity dedicated to promoting and facilitating public policy research and analysis, in the area of rail transportation. VRPI is independent of the rail industry. Its mission is to suggest public policy positions based on both academic and practical studies, and analysis of current and anticipated conditions.

Originally a hands-on railroader, up from the ranks, Beadles considers himself fortunate to have had a wide variety of operating, marketing and executive experience from the 1950s until retirement. As a former president and chief executive officer of the old Richmond, Fredericksburg & Potomac Railroad, and later of CSX Realty, the former real estate and development unit of CSX Corporation, Beadles went on to lead a Richmond-based real estate advisory firm known as MGT Realty Advisors until a second retirement several years ago.

Immersed in land use and transportation issues of Northern Virginia in the period 1965-1995, Beadles came to more keenly appreciate the linkage between urban development and transportation challenges and to see the opportunities for better utilization of rail corridors. He was directly involved in the development of Crystal City as RF&P’s principal officer in charge of the Railroad’s land redevelopment effort at the former Potomac Yard in Arlington and Alexandria, VA. Later, with CSX, Beadles was similarly engaged in urban real estate and transportation in various cities in the eastern half of the U.S., including Washington, D.C., Baltimore, Atlanta, Chicago, and elsewhere, including James Center in downtown Richmond.

As a member of Governor Mark Warner’s 2004 Rail Study Commission, Beadles played a minor, supporting role in the creation of the Virginia Rail Enhancement Fund and its companion facility, the State Rail Advisory Board. Subsequently, Governor Warner appointed Beadles to the Rail Advisory Board, on which he continues to serve.

An alumnus of the Business School at Virginia Commonwealth University, Beadles has in the past served on the VCU Board of Visitors, and was a charter member of the VCU Real Estate Foundation. At one time he chaired the VCU real estate program’s external support group. More recently he served as chairman of the Port of Richmond Commission. He delights in opportunities to combine involvement in urban planning and transportation, but his "old age" passion is preservation of the best of rural America and the protection of Virginia’s environment.

Beadles resides at Westminster Canterbury in Richmond, VA, with his wife Juanita.