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Amtrak to launch new mid-day Raleigh-Charlotte service

Posted June 4, 2010 9:32 a.m. EDT
Updated June 5, 2010 4:03 p.m. EDT

— 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.