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DOT: Rail improvement projects a 'big part' of NC's travel future

Posted August 3

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— Road construction projects are everywhere in North Carolina, from the Fortify zone in south Raleigh to the East End Connector section of the Durham Freeway.

But roads aren't the only focus for the state Department of Transportation – many of North Carolina's railroad systems are also receiving updates, and they are aimed at making train trips faster.

One of the main investments by the state is the $540 million Piedmont Improvement Program, which stretches from Raleigh to Charlotte. It includes new train stations such as Union Station in downtown Raleigh.

Renovated stations and additional track are also being added so that freight and passenger trains can pass each other and make trips faster.

DOT Rail Division Director Paul Worley says ridership has grown recently, especially between Raleigh and Charlotte.

"The ability to relax and do some work on the three hours and 15 to 20 minutes it takes to get to Charlotte is time well invested," Worley said.

Alexander Vining agrees, saying he often hops on the train to Charlotte.

"Spacious eats, internet, places to plug things in," Vining said. "I'd describe it as relaxing."

The Piedmont Improvement Program and other major railroad projects are slated to be finished in 2017, but they are just the start of big plans to improve rail travel across the state.

Worley says travelers will see additional service between Raleigh and Charlotte in the next few years. Beyond that, DOT officials also want to connect Asheville and Wilmington by train. There are also plans for a new train station in Hillsborough.

Worley says rail plays a big part in the state's future.

"While these are developing services, they will continue to grow over the years, and we'll continue to invest in railroads, highways, airports and all other modes because we're going to need it as a state," Worley said.

Vining said he'd use expanded services.

"If trains were more convenient and went to more places, I'd take them all the time," he said.


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