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Commuter Rail System Coming to the Triangle?

Posted August 1, 2007
Updated August 2, 2007

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— Could existing rail lines ease Triangle traffic problems? That’s the focus of a new study by the company that owns a lot of right-of-way in the state.

Plans for a light rail system stopped when federal funding fell through. Many said it was too expensive. Now, one group wants to know if a commuter rail system could run on current tracks.

When it seemed like any chance of a local rail system was off track, the North Carolina Railroad Co. decided to take a another look.

“I think there is a strong consensus that commuter rail will come. It’s just a matter of when and how,” said Scott Saylor, NCRR president.

The company is paying for the study to see if existing lines could be used in a commuter rail system. The study will examine the cost of converting tracks to be shared by commuter and freight trains.

“It will tell us how much infrastructure would need to be added and how frequently the trains could run along with the freight trains,” Saylor said.

The company is looking into the possibility of running four commuter trains in the morning and another four in the afternoon. The study will look at 174 miles of commuter lines – one section from Goldsboro to Burlington and another section in the Piedmont. It will examine stops 5 to 7 miles apart and possibly one at the airport.

“I think it would be great,” said Raleigh City Councilman Philip Isley. “We clearly need something like that, the problems we've had with the TTA and its limited destinations.”

The original Triangle Transit Authority light rail proposal included building two new tracks. The TTA plans to follow this new process closely.

“In talking with the North Carolina Railroad, we've made it clear that we want to participate at a level that will allow us to understand the results when they are produced,” said TTA General Manager David King.

The North Carolina Railroad Company is looking for consulting engineers to conduct the study. The company hopes to have results by the middle of next year and plans to present the final numbers to local government, businesses and transportation groups.

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  • FL380 Aug 3, 4:27 a.m.

    Nancy - the city in Germany that I currently live in has urban sprawl. There are at least 5 or 6 suburbs that I can think of and people commute every morning by train and/or bus.

    I think the main issue here is not an issue of need. Like I said, we already know we need to do something about transportation not only in North Carolina but across the US. The problem is a matter of usage. People simply won't use it because it is not always the most convenient thing. DrJ - I was born and raised in NC until I went to college and will soon return, and I remember the light rail study. But this study is completely different. They are talking about existing rail lines. And do I think this is a waste of money? Probably, because people won't use it. But do we need it (or something like it), yeah. I agree with wildervb in that we need to take some practical steps first.

  • Timbo Aug 2, 3:50 p.m.

    Well DrJ, if it was another Organized Crime group, I would be concerned. But since NC Government is more like "Dis-organized Crime", I doubt they could find me, even if they wanted to. ;^)

  • Nancy Aug 2, 2:38 p.m.

    southernhockey - in other countries, they are not "developed" like our state and county leaders have allowed to occur either.

    We have urban sprawl, not something typically found in foreign countries that use walking, moped and bus systems to move the masses.

    We don't have centers of activity that are supported by those who live within those centers.

  • IdoNOTliveinDurham Aug 2, 2:00 p.m.

    We have great visionaries in this state but I also know Jimmy Hendrick was a visionary or was that he had visions...

    Between the TTA now operating for 17 years and getting more money every time you register a car and buy a license. And the great Jack Kasardas vision the Global Trans Park you also fund everytime you get a license plate. Look at the boards for these 2 group MONEY PIT (Rich stay Rich folks for a reason)

    I think we would all be better off waiting for the flying car......I Love the Jetsons.....

  • wildervb Aug 2, 1:35 p.m.

    The light rail system previously planned was impractical and un-workable, it would have been useless for the vast amount of people in the triangle.

    Never the less, this area is growing and will continue to grow. Just like Atlanta or San Jose did, our once small city is growing into a new metropolis, Durham, Cary, Wake Forest and Raleigh are all growing together with no seperation between them.

    We need some form of mass transit or our area will become a traffic nightmare like other newer US cities. We also need an alternative to gasoline powered autos as this resource becomes more and more scarce.

    Again, I have to say, we should take small and practical steps first. Start by upgrading the bus system to a first class bus system, make a single regional system that serves the entire triangle. Start planning now for better mass transit in the future.

  • Gafan001 Aug 2, 1:34 p.m.

    Too late for a rail system, should have been done 10 years ago.

  • DrJ Aug 2, 1:27 p.m.

    southernhockey, in case you just moved here, a study was just done and clearly showed that light rail in this area would be a financial disaster. So put your arrogance aside, and try using a little common cents.

  • DrJ Aug 2, 1:24 p.m.

    Timbo, you might want to look under your car before you start it each day. You're hitting WAY too close to home for our government leaders!

    Enough money was already wasted trying to prove that the Triangle needed a rail system. So, Philip Isley, NO, we clearly do not need ANYTHING like this. Will we ever? Probably. But it's just stupid and wasteful to buy things and let them get old and outdated before you need them.

  • FL380 Aug 2, 1:16 p.m.

    I have now lived in 4 countries over the past 3 years and in every country their public transportation system is light-years ahead of ours in the states. Maybe if we invested a little money for a practical public transportation system we wouldn't have to pour $120 in our gas tanks every week. God forbid it take 20 minutes extra getting to work or even worse, having to walk more than 100 feet from your parking space to the office. But then again degrading ourselves to using mass transportation isn't really a part of the "American Dream" now is it? That's only for poor people.

    It's time to wake up and realize that something like this is needed not only in NC, but all over the US.

  • davidgnews Aug 2, 1:15 p.m.

    An idea that's past due. If government officials hadn't been asleep at the wheel and dealing according to special interests, something could be happening now to offset the gas prices.

    We need some real leaders, but they'll probably never run for election.

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