Local News

Transit experts gather in Raleigh, talk rail benefits

Posted September 14, 2011 6:17 p.m. EDT
Updated September 14, 2011 10:17 p.m. EDT

— Railroad advocates and transportation policy experts talked about the benefits of rail systems, during the third annual Progress in Motion forum at the Raleigh Convention Center Wednesday.

They discussed a planned high-speed rail line that will eventually connect Charlotte to Washington, D.C., and presented best practices for freight, passenger and commuter lines. Planning for a commuter rail in the Triangle was also on the agenda, with elected officials, local chambers of commerce, municipal planners and transit representatives weighing in.

Experts said a high-speed rail line in North Carolina would be very different from the trains that connect hundreds of cities around Europe, where trains approach speeds of 200 mph. North Carolina's are expected to average up to 87 mph.

In Europe, a separate rail line is devoted to high-speed rail. In the United States, lines are being updated and will be shared with existing trains. 

Traveling by train in the U.S. steadily increased in popularity over the last decade due to traffic and congestion, environmental concerns and rising gas prices.

"I've been taking the train a lot lately, (and I) love it," said Republican State Senator Jim Forrester, who serves on the state's transportation committee. "I wish more people would use it."

Forrester, a supporter of the rail system, said he'd like to see more funding for rails, but money is limited.

"We've got a lot of infrastructure problems with bridges and roads. That's the key right now, and we probably need to do that first," he said.