DOT to study Raleigh-Wilmington rail service

Posted May 26, 2010 10:08 a.m. EDT
Updated May 26, 2010 10:17 a.m. EDT

— 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.