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Amtrak to launch new mid-day Raleigh-Charlotte service

Posted June 4, 2010
Updated June 5, 2010

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— Starting Saturday, North Carolinians will have one more option for rail travel between the state's major cities.

Amtrak's Piedmont train will make a new mid-day run that will complement morning and evening service between Raleigh and Charlotte. It will increase the number of daily trips between the cities from four to six.

"Riding the train is a safe, environmentally friendly and economical way to travel," state Transportation Secretary Gene Conti said in a statement.

State Department of Transportation estimates the service will attract 43,000 new riders in its first year. So far, Amtrak ridership has been up 25 percent in the past two years. More than half of riders on intercity trains traveled between Raleigh and Charlotte.

"The launch of these two additional trains demonstrates the strong partnership between Amtrak and the state to provide more passenger rail transportation alternatives for the residents of North Carolina," Amtrak President and CEO Joseph Boardman said.

Rail officials smashed a bottle of champagne on the train before it made the first mid-day run Saturday. It pulled out of the Raleigh train station at about 11:40 a.m.

Full-priced, adult, round-trip tickets cost about $50 and are discounted 40 percent throughout June. The trip takes a little over three hours and includes stops in Cary, Durham, Burlington, Greensboro, High Point, Salisbury and Kannapolis.

The Piedmont's train cars have been refurbished and have snack and beverage vending machines and a limited number of bike racks.

Transportation officials said that riders on North Carolina trains save about 3.9 million gallons of fuel annually and reduce carbon dioxide, greenhouse gas and nitrogen oxide emissions, compared to highway travel.

22 Comments

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  • Cahulawassee Jun 4, 5:17 p.m.

    There's more to the value calculation than the price of the ticket vs. a tank of gas. Riding on a train frees you up to work, read, etc. So that's a net gain unless you have nothing better to do with your time than look out the windshield and dodge I-40/85 drivers. As far as that goes, the gas isn't the only expense to be considered with driving, but also the mileage on your vehicle and the associated wear and tear.

    I surely wouldn't ride a train under every circumstance, but there are many occasions when it makes a lot of sense, and if we as Americans weren't so myopic about driving our cars the train would be a more popular option.

  • Lone Voice in the Wilderness Jun 4, 4:19 p.m.

    I think a lot of people are missing the point. No one is making you take the train or abandoning your car. It is an option. It is up to you to decide whether or not it is a viable one. By offering more times to travel between the different cities, they are creating more options to help you decide.

    While I do own a car (2008 Honda Fit that gets about 35 MPG on the highway), not everyone has a car, has an fuel-efficient car, or has a reliable car. But using @Monkeyboy's example, let's use a '05 Ford Expedition. According to fueleconomy.gov, a full tank of gas gets you about 353 miles for a cost of $65 (at $2.58/gallon).

    So, maybe then the train makes a bit more sense, especially if you're going from downtown Raleigh to uptown Charlotte.

  • Fun Jun 4, 4:10 p.m.

    Another benefit of government subsidies, a midday train...great, just what we needed.

  • monkeyboy Jun 4, 3:11 p.m.

    $50 bucks and 3 hours? man, that's for those with deep pockets and lots of time to spare. it's roughly 168 miles to charlotte from raleigh (so says mapquest); at my 33 mpg and $2.65 gas (last i filled up) that's only $26.98 round trip. timewise, at 70 mph (and in all honesty, that's slower than i drive) it's only 2.4 hours. plus when i got to charlotte by train, i'd have to pay for a bus or cab to get to my destination.

    no thanks. maybe for a once-in-a-while event, for example a panthers game. but this is no deal...

  • WinnieFan Jun 4, 3:04 p.m.

    What is the appeal? You can drive two people from Raleigh to Charlotte in a good bit LESS time, without all the unnecessary stops, and it cost less than $100 in gas! And then, you have your car once you're there... that'd be my preference.

  • Lars Marson Jun 4, 2:37 p.m.

    Amtrak needs a direct route from the Triangle area to Greenville, NC...I mean wouldnt it make logical sense to have train stops in all of the cities where there NC's 16 state public universities are located?? That would be a win/win for all entities involved! Get on it Amtrak!!

  • Nobody but Carolina Jun 4, 1:59 p.m.

    The train is also a great way to go down for a Panthers game come Football season. I believe it heads out of Raleigh at 9 am on Sundays and gets to uptown Charloote about noon. Then head in for the game. After the game, it heads out of Charlotte about 5 pm and putting you back in Raleigh about 8.

  • daddylike Jun 4, 1:39 p.m.

    The snack car is good tough. Free chips, cookies, candy and soda. As long as the school groups don't all run back there and get it all.

    I sleep great on the train. Just bring a pair of headphones.

  • Phrostbite Jun 4, 1:10 p.m.

    great option. took it for CIAA tourney & it was perfect, though it's hard to sleep when the train is constantly stopping & stopping. Just don't expect Oriental Express like service. It's bare to the bones.

  • daddylike Jun 4, 12:55 p.m.

    Southwest-It is actually normally 48-50 RT. $100 would be fore two people.

    There is a bus that leaves right across the street from station that makes several stops into downtown. It costs 1.25 each way. I have actually walked before and it was not bad at all.

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