Noneck_08

North Carolina Intercity Rail Transit

Recommended Posts

dubone    621

girly, there was a bill that senator lautenburg pushed that i think was designed to fund high speed train routes as seen on the map above. It a few years ago. His website used to have a great deal of details on the bill, and that is likely what you saw. The bill never moved forward, and when Lautenburg retired, it was seen as dead.

Lautenburg, however, is now back in the senate... and he is now a cosponsor on the Lott's bill, which is a bit more a conservative slant, but retains investments in high speed corridors.

The South East corridor from DC to Charlotte is the furthest along of the HSR routes, and the extension from Charlotte to Macon is coming along well as a future phase.

http://www.sehsr.org/news/CLT-MACstudy.html

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites


orulz    106

Couple things. First: check out Amtrak's Weekly Specials - the Carolinian is listed as "up to 70% off." It may be 70% off for certain city pairs, but for travel within NC it seems to be running at about a 50% discount. That means a Charlotte-Raleigh round trip for $20. Holy Cheapness!

Second, there are a few other places where state-funded rail improvements are actively taking place. In Michigan, for example, a new signal system was recently installed on the line between Chicago and Detroit, and trains travel at 95mph (with 110mph coming in a year or two). This is a bit of a special case, though, because the tracks are owned by Amtrak and the project was funded jointly by Amtrak, the FRA, and the state of Michigan. There is also a long-standing plan still in the "testing" phase to get trains up to 110mph between Chicago and Springfield. And then there's California, of course, which is essentially a country of its own when it comes to passenger rail.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
monsoon    0

There is a pretty good article in today's Observer about the state of the NC passenger railroad.

Some of the highlights.

- Average speed is 63 mph, up from 45 mph 5 years ago.

- The midday train may be operating by 2008.

- News about the NCDOT beginning work soon on the downtown Charlotte train station.

There is also a side box indicating that Senate bill 1516 will affect the highspeed rail project to DC.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
JunktionFET    0

There is a pretty good article in today's Observer about the state of the NC passenger railroad.

Some of the highlights.

- Average speed is 63 mph, up from 45 mph 5 years ago.

- The midday train may be operating by 2008.

- News about the NCDOT beginning work soon on the downtown Charlotte train station.

There is also a side box indicating that Senate bill 1516 will affect the highspeed rail project to DC.

Sweet, the midday Piedmont will be a welcome addition for sure. I'm also stoked about the Charlotte-DC high speed rail project too of course. I hope the article is accurate in its claim of HSR service within a decade.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
sax184    1

HSR is still a concept (a well-studied one, though) without funding. If you want to bring HSR to NC, call Elizabeth Dole and Richard Burr and thank them for voting in support of S. 1516 this past week, and then start working on your representatives to support it in the House.

A midday Piedmont would be fantastic, and would certainly entice me to travel by rail more often. Heck, I'd take 1/2-day trips to Greensboro/Salisbury on Saturdays if I could get my bike onboard. (I hear that this may be possible after Thanksgiving)

However, a reliable connection to DC and the Northeast would really be something. My family lives near Boston, and there are so many places to go along the Northeast Corridor (NEC), that I think I'd begin using that all the time.

That's why the HSR corridor is so important.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
monsoon    0

I read through that Senate bill and it is quite interesting. It provides a provision for funding capital costs related to state run rail networks, and it will cover 80% of the cost. It gives preference to those lines that directly connect to other modes of transit including airports, commuter rail, and bus services. Also preference it given to lines that can demonstrate high levels of ridership and will help relieve congestion on the highways.

It would seem to me the NCRR (not the right name) meets some of these criteria. The ridership numbers are encouraging, but I think the numbers of riders would jump a great deal if they would add a midday train. It would make the turn around a lot more tolerable and I could see people taking the trains more often as a result. 2008 seems to be a long way out for adding another train. I wonder what is holding it up?

In regards to connections to multi-modal facilities, the new Gateway station in Charlotte would qualify for that, as would the station in Greensboro due to the bus terminal being located there. How do the other rail stations stand on this area? Unfortunately there are no connections planned for any of the airports so I guess we miss out on that one.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
JunktionFET    0

In regards to connections to multi-modal facilities, the new Gateway station in Charlotte would qualify for that, as would the station in Greensboro due to the bus terminal being located there. How do the other rail stations stand on this area?

There's downtown Durham's new multi-modal station. The renderings and models look quite nice and it has provisions for the proposed TTA rail system too.

Downtown Cary's train station is designed to be multi-modal in that it will handle the proposed TTA rail system and also act as a major transfer point for TTA and C-TRAN buses (when C-TRAN starts their fixed routes, this month I believe). Ironically the Cary station also houses a DMV driver license office :lol:

The station envisioned for downtown Raleigh is also multi-modal (or "inter-modal" as it has been called). It has been through several different revisions and such but certainly combined many different forms of transportation. It also has the capacity to handle eastern commuter transit lines like those suggested by Eastrans. Who knows when this new station will get off the ground though.

I believe some of the other recent historic station renovations have had some future multi-modal element in mind.

By the way, this news article has two small but interesting photos from the reopened Greensboro station.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
mattm    0

I used to live by those "rail sale" deals when I was working in Charlotte -- I took the train back and forth most every Friday and Sunday night for those 8 months. I even got my picture in the paper about taking the train! I think my mom got about 25 copies of it from her friends that live in the area.

Actually, from that usage standpoint, the midday run isn't quite as useful. There were a number of us worker types that commuted weekly or more. The evening trains were really about that were useful I think. Same for the group of split-family kids that spent weekends with the other parent.

However, for the leisure day-trip this does open up possibilities. A trip to Charlotte (or Raleigh from the other end) means you're using the Piedmont (Carolinian) both ways in order to have about a 7 hour visit. A trip to Greensboro on the train means that you almost immediately board the train back, or you have to spend a long day there (about 10 hours). 7 hours is really about the limit when you're dragging smaller kids around.

On another note, C-Tran has delayed their fixed route startup into December. There's a small note in their recent press releases here: http://www.townofcary.org/news/news2005/Factcheck-ctran.htm

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

sax184    1

I'd like to see the midday train introduced on weekends first. Those are the big ridership days anyway, I think.

That might be a way to get it started earlier using less money.

Here's a possible schedule that could be implemented as early as next spring.

RAL CLT

7:00 10:05

CLT RAL

10:35 13:40

RAL CLT

14:10 17:15

CLT RAL

17:45 20:50

You could be in Greensboro by 8:30 AM and depart back at 12:05 P.M.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
dubone    621

http://www.sehsr.org/

According to the SEHSR site, historic sites were found during the Tier II EIS. This will cause 1-2 year delays in completing the Draft EIS.

It was posted on the SEHSR 10/19/05, but I don't see the news posted on this thread yet.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
JunktionFET    0

^Yeah, but in the hypothetical situation where all funding is available immediately, high speed trains could be running by 2010. That is probably unlikely, but still shows how money is by far the biggest obstacle.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
orulz    106

I don't mean to squish anyone's Christmas spirit, but...

Why is it that Christmas, Santa, and Trains always seem to come together? Is it the notion of toy trains running around the tree? Is it some outmoded association between traveling at Christmastime and riding the train? In North Carolina, almost nobody associates trains with travelling to actually go somewhere. Certainly not children.

I suppose the NC Santa Train could actually work to promote rail travel. While little Jimmy is sitting on Santa's lap, mom and dad realize "Wait, we're in High Point already? That was faster than I would have thought!"

But I can't help think that perpetuating this association only contributes more to rail travel's anachronistic image as joke when it comes to transportation. How many times have you heard an anti-rail legislator poking fun at rail transportation by calling it a "choo choo" or mentioning Thomas, equating it to a childrens' toy.

That just... irks me.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
sax184    1

Yeah, I'm with you, orulz. I'm sick of advertising trains and transit as a novelty rather than a useful part of day-to-day travel planning in NC, but that's part of attracting people the first time.

It's good to see NCDOT also reaching out to college students and weekend traveler markets, but it would also be good to see them try to get more business travelers in the state, etc. Of course, until we have service that puts you in Charlotte early enough for morning meetings if you board in Raleigh or vice versa, this is not likely to happen soon.

Ultimately, though, this is all about land use planning. Our state continues to develop in the most sprawling way possible, with a few exceptions in several downtowns around the state which are gathering steam.

Look from the Triad to the Triangle, though, and it's one long stream of suburban crud.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
orulz    106

Actually, when I'm on the train, i'm usually struck with how much of this region is rural or completely undeveloped. You wouldn't get that impression driving along I-40/85, thanks to all the billboards, gas stations, Super 8 Motels, and McDonalds, but the vast majority of our state (and even the majority of land between Durham and Greensboro) is still rural.

That's somewhat reassuring, because there's still plenty of land not yet suburbanized, but it's also somewhat disturbing, because if present trends continue, all this rural land will eventually become more suburban sprawl.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

sax184    1

Actually, when I'm on the train, i'm usually struck with how much of this region is rural or completely undeveloped. You wouldn't get that impression driving along I-40/85, thanks to all the billboards, gas stations, Super 8 Motels, and McDonalds, but the vast majority of our state (and even the majority of land between Durham and Greensboro) is still rural.

That's somewhat reassuring, because there's still plenty of land not yet suburbanized, but it's also somewhat disturbing, because if present trends continue, all this rural land will eventually become more suburban sprawl.

Well, that's true- there is a lot of rural land out there along the railroad corridor. But doesn't that tell you something as well? That development is not being placed anywhere near the corridor for future TOD opportunities?

And of course, when you do drive I-40 and see the massive conurbation of strip malls, targets, gas stations, etc, you can see that most of the development that IS occurring is indeed crap, and that future development is likely to be the same way.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
JunktionFET    0

This undeveloped land along the NCRR corridor can be a good thing in a way. It means that future development can be engineered to be transit oriented from the ground up, and a would-be regional commuter system wouldn't need to dodge existing crap development.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
mallguy    49

Does the NCDOT have any plans to buy new passenger cars anytime soon? I took the Piedmont today and liked it. I was surprised, though, that the cars are of the age (1950s, I'd assume) and type that Amtrak phased out of service on most routes by the 1990s.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
orulz    106

Most of the NCDOT cars date from the 50s through the early 60s. I know that they have several more in their yard that are up for refurbishment as well, and in the short term, as those cars enter service, they will set some of the ones that they're currently using aside and do some maintenence and a general overhaul of the interior.

In the longer term, NCDOT has plans to increase the frequency of the Piedmont and add service to Asheville and Wilmington, and in that case they'd definitely to buy more equipment. I'd say it's likely that they would move the old refurbished equipment to the Asheville/Wilmington lines, and buy new trainsets for the corridor service between Charlotte and Raleigh. We would probably see something like the Talgos on the Cascades line in the pacific northwest, or perhaps even trains with matching engines like the Talgo XXI.

This all dependens on NC continuing to fund rail service. I think the prospects are fairly good, but it's not a given.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
mallguy    49

Thanks for the info. Also, I noticed that the Piedmont gets to Charlotte at 10:14AM and leaves again at 5:30PM. With a Charlotte-Raleigh trip time of slightly over 3 hours, the train could head back to Raleigh and then again back to Charlotte in time for the 5:30 departure. Alternatively, the train could head down to Greenville, SC and back in time for the 5:30 departure. Any ideas if these extra trips have been considered? Since the equipment is otherwise sitting idle and is paid for regardless of how much it runs, it seems to make sense to at least have the equipment running somewhere, unless fare revenues are so low that they wouldn't cover the additional trips.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
monsoon    0

The Piedmont is funded by the state of NC. It is not an Amtrak train even though the state has employed Amtrak to run it. Therefore it is very unlikely it will go into SC.

If the SEHSR is ever built, there is a proposal for a phase II that would extend the route from Charlotte to Macon Ga, with a stop in Greenville. But I think that will be years if not decades off. The Bush administration is very anti-train so federal transit funding of this type has practically disappeared.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
orulz    106

There needs to be enough time between runs to turn the train around, clean it, and allow for some delays. Though the Piedmont generally arrives in Charlotte within 10 minutes of its scheduled time, it's not unheard of for it to be as much as 30 minutes late. They have to allow for that. In addition, there may not be enough spare capacity on the line between Charlotte and Greensboro to reliably accommodate another passenger train.

NCDOT does, however, want to add a second mid-day round trip for the Piedmont. A great deal of the cost of running the Piedmont are the fixed costs of the maintenence facility (Capital Yard behind the old Seaboard Station in Raleigh.) By running the train back and forth twice daily, probably capturing quite a few more passengers, they can achieve a better economy of scale. As other states (Maine and California) have found, doubling the frequency of trains can yield more than double the ridership for less than double the cost.

My guess is that this will only happen once they can guarantee a high level of service. I predict that a second round trip will be announced once the double track between Greensboro and High Point is in place, hopefully towards the end of 2006. After the frequency has been increased, I'd like to see Amtrak and DOT promote the train like crazy (newspaper articles, billboards along the interstate, etc.)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
mallguy    49

I agree with the above posts, and thanks for the information. Hopefully South Carolina will get on board with state funding of intercity trains, but I don't see that happening anytime soon. And hopefully North Carolina will promote its trains more heavily. Plenty of people I work with (in center-city Charlotte), at least, have no clue that a train goes to Raleigh.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
monsoon    0

That will change hopefully when the train station is moved back to the center city with the opening of Gateway Station. Right now the station is located in a non-descript part of N. Tryon that is fairly dangerous which means nobody goes there. On of the more idiotic things they did, though they no longer cared about train transit when they did, was to re-locate the train station to where it is today.

Of all the projects being built in the CBD I would rank this one at the top in importance.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Question: What were the main passenger railroads in NC during the early 20th century? Also, does anyone have a map of the state's passenger railroad network from that time period. Thanks

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now


  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.