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More train service planned on Raleigh-Charlotte route

Posted June 4, 2008 11:45 a.m. EDT
Updated June 4, 2008 4:06 p.m. EDT

North Carolina trains (photo by Ernest H. Robl)

— Midday train service will be added to the Raleigh to Charlotte route to meet growing ridership demand, Gov. Mike Easley announced Wednesday.

Currently, two rail routes serve the two cities. At a travel time of just over three hours, and a cost of $50 roundtrip, the train is increasingly popular with travelers confronted with rising gas prices.

The Piedmont route leaves Raleigh daily at 7 a.m., making stops in Cary, Durham, Burlington, Greensboro, High Point, Salisbury and Kannapolis before arriving in Charlotte at 10:09 a.m. The evening run leaves Charlotte at 5:30 p.m. and arrives in Raleigh at 8:40 p.m.

The Carolinian travels the opposite route, leaving Charlotte at 7:40 a.m. and arriving in Raleigh at 11:06 a.m.; the return from Raleigh departs daily at 4:50 p.m. and arrives in Charlotte at 8:14 p.m.

Ridership on those trains has increased 22 percent over the past six months, according to the North Carolina Department of Transportation, which sponsors Amtrak service in the state.

“Ridership is increasing significantly along this route and adding a midday train run will meet the growing demand and provide needed services to North Carolina travelers who are looking for economical alternatives to driving,” Easley said.

The additional route will cost $3 million a year. The governor's office said that money will come from federal clean air funds.

“Federal funds are going to cover startup and operational costs for the next three years, so it’s a win-win,” state Transportation Secretary Lyndo Tippett said.

N.C. DOT officials estimated the train would be on the tracks before the end of the calendar year.