DOT to study Raleigh-Wilmington rail service

Posted May 26, 2010

— The state Department of Transportation’s Rail Division has applied for federal funds to study the possibility of launching passenger rail service between Raleigh and Wilmington, officials said Wednesday.

The $6.7 million in funds from the Federal Rail Administration would be matched by $1.7 million from the state. The money would be used for environmental studies and engineering and design work, as well as studies to assess ridership, revenues and construction and operating costs.

The Raleigh-to-Wilmington passenger train would run through Fayetteville and Goldsboro, officials said. The state also is looking at beginning rail service between Asheville and Salisbury and will use the federal money to study that option as well.

“It is exciting to think about the possibility of providing passenger rail service to western and southeastern North Carolinians,” state Transportation Secretary Gene Conti said in a statement. “Those areas have long worked to secure service and are included in the State Rail Plan for bringing quality rail transportation to the state."

The passenger service design must include sufficient rail network capacity to operate freight, intermodal and passenger trains reliably, officials said. Passenger trains operating at speeds for conventional intercity rail service travel up to 79 mph.

In January, North Carolina received $545 million in federal economic stimulus grants for further development of the nearly 500-mile Southeast High Speed Rail Corridor. The grants will be used to make improvements to the corridor that will allow trains to travel between Charlotte and Washington, D.C., at top speeds of 90 to 110 mph.


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  • unc70 May 26, 2010

    A quick look at some recent highway construction projects in NC. For actual construction, after design, impact, etc., it costs well in excess of $40 million per mile for interstate quality roads around here.

    BTW replacing one set of bridges on I-85 (long overdue) is going to be one of the more expensive couple of miles in NC.

  • unc70 May 26, 2010

    @Andiecat: Cute, but missed the point. This is hardly "spur of the moment" by NC DOT; previous work in 2001 and 2005 evaluated four alternative routes, studied demand, projected growth, etc. As a result, efforts were made to preserve existing rail right-of-way and routes that might be needed in the future, and to avoid making other stupid mistakes where a little planning would help a lot.

    The studies include issues related to freight lines to Beaufort and Wilminton and to the GTP near Kinston, where there is now a real need related to building large airplane assemblies.

    A bit of NC RR history. When the Wilmington-Weldon RR was completed, it was the longest in the world. The NC Railroad connecting the WW to Charlotte was the major factor in the Piedmont Crescent of urban development and the creation of cities and towns along the way (e.g. Durham).

  • Bishop May 26, 2010

    A thousand tissue's for all those who cry! New rail means new job's and new transportation. Something this state can ACTUALLY use!!! Better economy in wilmington, jobs across the state to build AND operate the new system. AND we can not all drive 2/car and spend 2 gallons of gas to go to the beach!!! Obviously the study is necessary to build the rail, if it takes baby steps to get a job done than baby steps we shall take! A marathon begins with a very small step. GOD FORBID WE SEE SOME ECONOMIC GROWTH AROUND HERE WITH OUT PEOPLE GETTING THE RUNS!!

  • affirmativediversity May 26, 2010

    I guess I'm on the WRAL censor's "naughty chair" for constantly pointing out how FISCALLY IRRESPONSIBLE Perdue and her DEM gang are!

  • Mark G May 26, 2010

    While I'm not totally against a better rail system in North Carolina, the timing and ridiculous amount of money, just to conduct a study, is yet another example of the inefficiency of state government.

    $7.8 Million for a study??!! That's ridiculous. We should also note the claim that the money comes from "federal funds", as if we don't pay for that. Where do you think the federal funds come from? Us! And the fact that the funds first have to go through the Washington Bureaucracy means even less efficiency for our money.

    To "unc70", there are gas taxes and highway taxes in place to pay for these "roads of our convenience." If a substantial number of people take the train instead of drive, then tax revenue would drop and the politicians will be back in our pockets for more.

  • unc70 May 26, 2010

    In previous comment, it should say that time for rail travel is roughly the same as for automobiles for trips from Raleigh or Durham to Charlotte.

    Anyone wishing to see what a good, small city, mass transit system can provide should look closely at Chapel Hill Transit, serving CH, Carrboro, and UNC. It is the second largest transit system in NC (Charlotte is larger), is one of the best systems in the whole country, and is fare-free for nearly all routes and services. Next time you are in Chapel Hill, hop on a bus and try it out for free. It's our treat.

    (The special shuttle buses to concerts and sports events are not included in my offer. There is a charge for them.)

  • Andiecat May 26, 2010

    As per usual, DOT is on the wrong track. This spur of the moment idea shows that DOT has a loco motive. I'd kick this one in the caboose.

  • smegma May 26, 2010

    around your elbow to get to your what? goldsboro and fayetteville? huh?

  • unc70 May 26, 2010

    There are two alternative routes to Wilmington, one serving Goldsboro and the other serving Fayetteville. Each still being studied.

    As for driving down I-40, think how many millions of dollars it cost to build that road for your convenience.

    Time for trips by rail in NC are improving steadily. Even without the current round of track improvements, trips from Raleigh or Durham to Charlotte take about the same time for travel. Midday service being added in June, three trains each way per day.

    Things look different when local mass transit is done well.

  • Lone Voice in the Wilderness May 26, 2010

    On the whole, I think a rail system is a good idea. I've taken the train to & from Charlotte several times, and I've always enjoyed the experience.

    Secondly, let's examine why one would take a train. Would I take a train to go to the beaches? Probably not. If I were staying in a downtown hotel or B&B, then yes, I might take the train.

    Why would I? That way, I could travel to Wilmington, have a great time downtown, and not have to worry about driving back.

    But then again, unlike many Americans, I can actually walk more than 1/2 a mile to get from point A to B.