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North Carolina Intercity Rail Transit


Noneck_08

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I attended the first part of the workshop (the presentation portion). My overall feeling now is that North Carolina is pretty uniquely situated to win some of the stimulus money for HSR upgrades. There were representatives from NC, SC, VA and GA DOTs, as well as NCRR, N/S and CSX. The gist I came away with is that California, Illinois, Virginia and North Carolina are the states best situated with support, planning, existing partnerships and ready-to-go projects.

The Federal Railroad Administration made it clear that the $8 billion has to be spent, well, perfectly. Wherever the money goes, it has to show real results. They don't want tracks built that can't afford trains, they don't want shiny new trains sitting in the weeds, etc. Their stance is that years of planning will go to waste and any HSR initiatives will come to a halt if the $8 billion goes down the drain.

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May 20th, 2009 and still no word on when the third frequency will be added. Hmm.. not looking good for that summer rush.

I also thought I read somewhere that NC DOT Rail division could look for another train system besides Amtrak to offer service. What's the likelyhood of this happening? If a railroad company was to approach the NC Rail Division to offer scheduled service, would they do it? Would they offer stipends like they do for Amtrak or would they use the stipends to double trak some single trak areas?

Just wondering..

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May 20th, 2009 and still no word on when the third frequency will be added. Hmm.. not looking good for that summer rush.

I also thought I read somewhere that NC DOT Rail division could look for another train system besides Amtrak to offer service. What's the likelyhood of this happening? If a railroad company was to approach the NC Rail Division to offer scheduled service, would they do it? Would they offer stipends like they do for Amtrak or would they use the stipends to double trak some single trak areas?

Just wondering..

The midday trains are more likely to roll in September. The item holding up the deployment is having the right locomotives and cars available. The state needs a few more cars or a loco, not sure which.

A lot of people talk about how a non-Amtrak provider would come forward to provide service. Right now, it's highly unlikely. It's not like there's a commuter rail operating company in the south to bid on the work. In the Northeast or in CA, where commuter rail operations are bid out, this would be more likely to happen.

Again, the primary obstacles to more trains running in NC right now are vehicles and tracks.

In other news, the new Durham Amtrak station is supposed to open in June. That will be a big upgrade from the Amshack.

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Another update on the SEHSR website. It's a graphic with a very high-level overview of the improvements that are planned. Nothing earth shattering but it does confirm some observations:

  1. It will be fully grade separated all the way from Richmond to Raleigh
  2. It will probably follow the NS route through DT Raleigh
  3. Between Petersburg and Raleigh it will be single-track, and run at 110mph with long, frequent passing sidings.
  4. There will be some unspecified amount of freight traffic between Petersburg and Raleigh.
It's nice to see that SEHSR continues to put out more and more information about the project these days.
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  • 1 month later...

So the question of the moment that I have is.. when will there be an announcement for the 2nd daily Piedmont train?

My next question is.. how goes the study for the rail line between Goldsboro and Wilmington? Will they repair the line that was taken out? Is there a timeline?

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So the question of the moment that I have is.. when will there be an announcement for the 2nd daily Piedmont train?

My next question is.. how goes the study for the rail line between Goldsboro and Wilmington? Will they repair the line that was taken out? Is there a timeline?

The last I heard on the midday Piedmont is that NCDOT needs to send two of its current three locomotives away for midlife repairs/rebuilds. To do so, it has purchased two used locos from elsewhere which are currently being rebuilt. Once the used locos are successfully rebuilt and arrive in NC, NCDOT can start the midday trains and send the others for overhaul. At that point, NCDOT will have one of its current three locos running, on used loco running, and the second used loco as a spare/backup. The goal is still to get this done sometime in 2009, maybe closer to the end of the year.

I don't know that there is timeline for the rail to Wilmington. Environmental work on the Asheville line to Salisbury was on a list of projects for which NCDOT requested stimulus funds; I'm not sure if they received funding.

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Ah.. this is a slow process.

Which corridors are service ready? Meaning, if someone came with a train wanting to start rail service in NC.. would the Raleigh-Morehead City be service ready? How about Raleigh-Asheville? Charlotte-Wilmington? I know Raleigh-Goldsboro-Wilmington isn't.

Just wondering, in case I can get my $16Mil to get 4 four-car railsets together to start the service. :rofl:

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The only visible progress I have seen on the Asheville-Salisbury line has been the closing of several crossings. This isn't necessarily related to the new service, but will certainly help when it does happen.

There is probably more going on behind the scenes that we don't know about.

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I was at the ribbon cutting of the Durham Amtrak Station today. There were 250+ people there, way above any expectations.

FRA Deputy Administrator Karen Rae was there. NC DOT Secretary Gene Conti annouced that tosay was the pre application deadline for High Speed Rail funds (final app due August 24) and NC had asked for $700m of the $8b pot. Details of the application should be online next week at http://www.bytrain.org There are apparently 90+ specific projects on the NC list. I think the largest is probably 26 nls of doubletracking between Greensboro and Charlotte,

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The number $700 million puzzles me.

It's not nearly enough to tackle either of the two BIG rail projects that the state has planned: (1) SEHSR, and (2) Double-tracking from Greensboro to Goldsboro.

It's also way more than the total cost of all the other "shovel ready" incremental projects NCDOT has in the pipeline (see this list from February).

In any case, the list of projects isn't on the website yet. I'll just have to wait and see what they have in mind. Perhaps SEHSR will be filing seperately?

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The number $700 million puzzles me.

It's not nearly enough to tackle either of the two BIG rail projects that the state has planned: (1) SEHSR, and (2) Double-tracking from Greensboro to Goldsboro.

It's also way more than the total cost of all the other "shovel ready" incremental projects NCDOT has in the pipeline (see this list from February).

In any case, the list of projects isn't on the website yet. I'll just have to wait and see what they have in mind. Perhaps SEHSR will be filing seperately?

The list is supposed to be up soon at http://www.bytrain.org

I have a copy of it -- it is actually $4.026b. There is $900m of projects that are through EIS and preliminary engineering.

North Carolina's application is carrying the whole costs of the 168 miles from Raleigh to Richmond, that alone is $2.548b. Virginia is carrying the Richmond-DC improvements in its application.

The remaining $1.5b+ in North Carolina's application is largely RGH-CLT, including $100m to restore double track for 26 miles from Greensboro to Charlotte.

Other items that are $25m+:

CRISP: Grade separate CSXT/NS/CATS in Charlotte, move CSX Tryon Yard to Pinoca $113m

CRISP: northend improvements; grade separate 36th St, Eastway overpass, acquire ROW, eliminates 3 at grade crossings $73m

Doubletrack Greensboro to McLeansville , various grade separations $55m

CRISP: Charlotte southend, Charlotte WYE, 3rd mainline track, eliminate grade crossings $25m

Charlotte Gateway Station construction: $34m

Charlotte Gateway station track and bridge improvements 4th, 5th, 6th, Trade, Morehead $33m

University station grade separation, 5 miles of double track (E of Hillsborough) realign 5 curves $31m

3 train sets passenger cars, cab cars, power/locomotives $75m (allows 5th frequency RGH-CLT and for SEHSR)

SEHSR ROW $100m

5 miles 3rd track near Linwood Yard $30m

double track 6.m Haw River to Mebane and bridge replacements $67m

double track 6.5 miles Funston-Durham and 5 grade separations $37m

Charlotte northern bypass new tryon St bridge, NS yard tracks and passenger track flyover $47m

Western North Carolina 9 stations and platforms for Salisbury-Asheville service $30m

SE NC 7 stations and platforms RGH-Goldsboro-Fayetteville-Wilmington service $35m

16 grade separations CLT-Durham $86m

Edited by staffer
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It's an interesting question. I don't know if there are any established mechanisms for handing out that money.

There are $93.3b in preapplications for the $8 b in federal funds for High Speed Rail. California has applied for $22.3b of the $8b.

Anything not on the preapp list can not be funded. Final applications are due August 24, then the feds begin winnowing down to the $8b (which actually may be $9b as Obama has $1b in his 2009-10 budget request)

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Clearly NC isn't going to get $4 billion of federal money for rail improvements out of the stimulus, but at least it's very interesting to see an itemized list of everything that they'd LIKE to do.

I wonder which projects will be given priority, and what criteria will be used? Will the big HSR project (Richmond to Raleigh) be prioritized, or will the individual incremental improvements come first? And, who decides? Is it the FRA, NCDOT, Congress, or will it essentially be Obama and his appointees directly?

I doubt the feds would be very enthusiastic about funding 100% of the Richmond-Raleigh line either, so we'll have to come up with matching funds in order to be competitive.

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If matching funds are a requirement, then it sounds as if California has absolutely no chance.

I doubt they're officially a requirement, but it demonstrates local commitment and would be looked upon favorably.

California did approve a $9 billion bond issue for HSR by referendum. There is of course the question of how the hell they would pay those bonds back with their budget in shambles... special interests fight any and all cuts, but proposition 13 makes it impossible to raise any revenue. While they probably will get their house in order eventually, it is pretty clear that they won't be issuing any of those bonds this year.

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The projects below subsume some of the costs that would have to be incurred for the Charlotte CATS North line and Northeast line as follows:

CRISP: Grade separate CSXT/NS/CATS in Charlotte, move CSX Tryon Yard to Pinoca $113m (covers costs of North line interchange with CSX by trenching CSX under)

CRISP: northend improvements; grade separate 36th St, Eastway overpass, acquire ROW, eliminates 3 at grade crossings $73m (covers some of North East corridor costs)

Charlotte Gateway Station construction: $34m (covers some of North corridor costs)

Charlotte Gateway station track and bridge improvements 4th, 5th, 6th, Trade, Morehead $33m (covers some of North corridor costs)

Sugar Creek grade separation (Northeast corridor) is also in the preapp.

Edited by staffer
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The projects below subsume some of the costs that would have to be incurred for the Charlotte CATS North line and Northeast line as follows:

......

This is unfortunate. These projects are highly dependant upon local politics of 6 municipal governments, Mecklenburg county and the whims of a transit organization that only reports to one of them. None of them have demonstrated any interest in making decisions about the building of the North and NE line based on the needs of the HSR project. IMO, where it stands now is the North line won't be built and I don't believe that CATS can get federal funding to proceed on the NE line based on the astronomical costs that are coming in for it. They state officials for the HSR project should move forward with a plan that doesn't assume these CLT projects will move forward.
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This is unfortunate. These projects are highly dependant upon local politics of 6 municipal governments, Mecklenburg county and the whims of a transit organization that only reports to one of them. None of them have demonstrated any interest in making decisions about the building of the North and NE line based on the needs of the HSR project. IMO, where it stands now is the North line won't be built and I don't believe that CATS can get federal funding to proceed on the NE line based on the astronomical costs that are coming in for it. They state officials for the HSR project should move forward with a plan that doesn't assume these CLT projects will move forward.

Hmm- I'm reading this differently from you. Seems to me that some of the costs that were originally to be borne by the transit projects, may instead be covered by HSR.

The CSX/NS grade separation was the single most expensive component of the North Corridor project. As I understood it, the North Corridor cost estimates included its full construction. However, since it is also required for HSR, if it can instead be built as part of an HSR stimulus project, that will transfer $113 million from the cost for building the North Corridor to the HSR project instead. Trimming $113 million from the cost of the North Corridor might make it more feasible to build without the unpalatable TIF scheme.

In other words, the HSR stimulus might actually make it cheaper to build the transit lines as well.

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^I might be wrong, but I think you have this confused. The HSR will travel in the NE corridor, not that of the North line. The North line is basically using a little used track that heads to Mooresville which is owned by NS. I agree that $113M would be significant for the North line but the HSR isn't going this way.. It's a bit confusing as the HSR line does make a turn around 12th St in downtown and then terminates at Gateway station where the North line also will terminate. Beyond just these few blocks however, the two lines share no common ROW.

From beyond downtown the HSR folllows the NE ROW until it breaks off at Eastway drive and heads up N. Tryon. Unlike the North line, $113M is but a drop in the bucket however for the NE line. My guess is that once it is all said and done, the price tag will be close to $2B. If these figures hold I simply don't see the feds coughing up $1B for the project. It's even less likely the NCDOT will lay out a $1/2B and without signficant new local taxes, CATS is hopelessly out of it's league in having this kind of funding available.

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^I might be wrong, but I think you have this confused. The HSR will travel in the NE corridor, not that of the North line. The North line is basically using a little used track that heads to Mooresville which is owned by NS. I agree that $113M would be significant for the North line but the HSR isn't going this way.. It's a bit confusing as the HSR line does make a turn around 12th St in downtown and then terminates at Gateway station where the North line also will terminate. Beyond just these few blocks however, the two lines share no common ROW.

From beyond downtown the HSR folllows the NE ROW until it breaks off at Eastway drive and heads up N. Tryon. Unlike the North line, $113M is but a drop in the bucket however for the NE line. My guess is that once it is all said and done, the price tag will be close to $2B. If these figures hold I simply don't see the feds coughing up $1B for the project. It's even less likely the NCDOT will lay out a $1/2B and without signficant new local taxes, CATS is hopelessly out of it's league in having this kind of funding available.

Orulz is correct. The North line to Davidson has to cross the CSX -- this is part of the CRISP project that trenches the CSX under both the CATS North line and the NS Mainline. These costs if borne by HSR (and they are absolutely necessary for HSR) relieve the North line project from paying much of those costs. The HSR project is not being done in order to have the North line built, but they are costs that impact both projects that can be 100% funded with HSR. HSR will also deal with SOME of the North east corridor costs through the Tryon Yard out to Sugar Creek. As Monsoon correctly points out here, those relieved costs are a drop in the bucket for the NE line. But, again, HSR if funded will relieve a substantial part of the North line costs for Gateway station, and for bridges and structures as far as the current CSX interchange

Edited by staffer
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