Jump to content

North Carolina Intercity Rail Transit


Noneck_08

Recommended Posts


Once again, an Amtrak train was involved in a collision. Does anyone have statistics on how often this happens, especially in North Carolina? It seems like at least once a month. Seems like traveling by Amtrak in this state might be more dangerous than doing lines off a urinal.

Riding Amtrak is far safer than riding in your car. When a train hits a car, or even a truck, the train wins decisively, every time. But on statistics, NC is doing much,much better than it was about 10-20 years ago. For evidence, look at this table of crash statistics on the NCDOT Rail Division website.

In short, the NCDOT Sealed Corridor initiative has closed numerous crossings throughout the state, and has greatly reduced the number of collisions. That said, some people cannot be deterred. You will see that trespasser incidents (people who drive through the gates, around them despite the lights flashing and bells ringing) have not fallen nearly as much. When someone wants to commit suicide by train, it is hard to stop them. This is unfortunate for the engineer, who must deal with the psychological baggage of someone choosing to end their life this way. By the time an engineer sees someone on the tracks, it is probably too late to stop.

As to the most recent incident, the AJC reports it was in Lowell, NC which is off the NCRR mainline, and therefore not on a railroad getting sealed corridor improvements.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Very interesting article in Trains which discusses the possibility of congressional recision of the already announced HSR grants to states. According to the article only $36 million of North Carolina's $545 million HSR grant is safe from congressional moodieness.

Get beyond the talking stage of construction guys, this is scary!

http://cs.trains.com...ho-may-not.aspx

Also a News and Observer article discussing this process here:

http://www.newsobserver.com/2011/01/17/925091/with-funds-in-jeopardy-nc-pushes.html

Edited by kermit
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Very interesting article in Trains which discusses the possibility of congressional recision of the already announced HSR grants to states. According to the article only $36 million of North Carolina's $545 million HSR grant is safe from congressional moodieness.

Get beyond the talking stage of construction guys, this is scary!

http://cs.trains.com...ho-may-not.aspx

Also a News and Observer article discussing this process here:

http://www.newsobserver.com/2011/01/17/925091/with-funds-in-jeopardy-nc-pushes.html

If the funds are to be taken back, it must be approved by both the House (which is now under Republican control) and the Senate (which is still solidly under Democrat control). I think this is just much ado about nothing.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I may be missing something, but I thought that the current administration's high(er)-speed rail grants, at least in the first round, were allegedly done in large part for projects that were ready to go, so that the grants could be spent quickly to stimulate the economy. But now the grants weren't really grants- they were just promises of future funds that could be withdrawn?

So those grants weren't allocated based on projects' rates of return on investment, and they weren't based on immediate needs. Sounds like a great way to run a program. Not.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

If they're like federal grants I've dealt with, you're promised the money, but you in order to actually get it you have to jump through hoops. I imagine there are a lot of hoops for half a billion dollar grants. I'm not sure Congress could pull the money back if it's been allocated to the FRA, but I guess it's entirely possible.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 2 weeks later...

An interesting column in Trains states that the reason for delays in the NC HSR track upgrade funding is due to disagreements with NS over service standards (e.g. how much freight will be delayed due to the dispatching needs of expanded pax service). It also discusses similar delays in VA and WA.

This situation leads me to a question: Since the state is the owner of the NCRR and NS is the leaseholder (for another 40 something years?) do these rights negotiations have a different tone than they would in places where the RR owns the tracks? I am not suggesting that the current agreement can or should be unilaterally altered, but can (or should) the NCRR threaten non renewal of the trackage rights as a bargaining tool? I understand the non-renewal would be far in the future but if NS was concerned about that prospect I would think they would begin refurbishing the Winston - Charlotte line as a main line replacement -- something that may ultimately reduce freight traffic on the NCRR thus helping to solve the current problem.

I guess part of what I am asking is if anyone is thinking about the long-term furture of the NCRR? Is it always assumed it will be leased to a Class I for mainline use? Has the NCRR considered becoming its own operator of both freight and pax service when the current lease expires? If not what will the next lease look like in terms of pax access and how might that affect rail service on other lines in the state?

Edited by kermit
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Frankly 40 years is so far in the future that anything NCRR says now would have little bearing on how NS is treated then.

The problem with not renewing the lease with NS is that, in my understanding, the lease is where NCRR gets most of its money to do improvements. With a long term lease they probably have the ability to issue bonds against future revenue as well. So without NS (or some operator) that guaranteed revenue stream would be lost.

Link to comment
Share on other sites


Even if the NCRR operated the freight, it will still face the same fundamental problem-- the freight rail is profitable, the passenger services not (until SESHR is completed, according to projections), and it's difficult to optimize both track and operations for freight and passenger services simultaneously.  NCRR would have the same concerns about disrupting the profitable freight operations that pay for the track upgrades if operating directly.It's a pretty crazy situation with the FRA and the funds, especially because North Carolina and NCRR have been able to reach agreement with NS until the FRA stepped in.  Perhaps Congressional threats to take away the money will get the FRA to approve those agreements faster.I see that in response to Obama's call for more HSR money, Rep. Bill Shuster (R-PA, chair of the railroad subcommittee of the House Transportation Committee) is saying the same thing that Rep. John Mica (R-FL, chair of House Transportation Committee) has been saying, that the money should be spent on the NEC, not scattered throughout the country on projects with questionable return. From here:

"“To spend the money across the country in dribs and drabs is not going to do it,” U.S. Representative Bill Shuster, the Pennsylvania Republican who chairs the railroad subcommittee of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, said in a phone interview. “I’m not willing to spend money unless we know it is going to be targeted on the one corridor where it could seriously have an impact, and that’s the Northeast Corridor.”"

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Looks like Florida is rejecting their money as well, based on three reasons:

  • Potential for cost overruns that would be borne solely by the state
  • Optimistic ridership projections
  • If they do build it but the operating costs are too high and they shut it down, having to return all the federal money

I still feel like SEHSR should be in the running, but it's even more of a shame that the EIS still isn't completed.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Looks like Florida is rejecting their money as well, based on three reasons:

  • Potential for cost overruns that would be borne solely by the state
  • Optimistic ridership projections
  • If they do build it but the operating costs are too high and they shut it down, having to return all the federal money

I still feel like SEHSR should be in the running, but it's even more of a shame that the EIS still isn't completed.

So does anyone here have a handle on how much it would take to get us to 110mph service from Charlotte to Raleigh?

$2.4 billion is a very large chunk of cash that will need to be redistributed... (but I got my hopes up last time and I swore I would never do that again)

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Looks like Florida is rejecting their money as well, based on three reasons:

  • Potential for cost overruns that would be borne solely by the state
  • Optimistic ridership projections
  • If they do build it but the operating costs are too high and they shut it down, having to return all the federal money

I still feel like SEHSR should be in the running, but it's even more of a shame that the EIS still isn't completed.

Isn't the DEIS due to be completed in early 2011 with Federal approval due in mid 2011? How much more has to be completed? I thought the last aspects were just getting the people of Raleigh-wood to decide which route to take in downtown area? Or is there more to do. Please advice.

And, just to ask.. why couldn't the SEHSR get a nice big chunk of thise throwback? I mean, CA got MOST of it last time.. their complete line can't be paid for.. if SEHSR don't get a nice chunk, that's gonna blow.. :-)

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I have a feeling that the feds would not simply send all the money to Chicago or Illinois. They probably want to have at least one significant east-coast investment that they can point to. I have a feeling that at least some of this money will be distributed to NC and/or VA. NC's EIS is actually quite close to completion, and it only has to be complete by September 2012 to qualify for the Stimulus money. California is actually no further along in the EIS process than we are.

I have heard that the cost for rebuilding the S-line from Centralia to Petersburg would be in the vicinity of $1.8 billion. That does not include bringing trains to Main Street Station. I have also heard a similar estimate for triple-tracking Richmond to Washington and building the ACCA bypass.

If we don't fund the S-line, I am really hoping that we will get everything out of our 2010 request funded: A few critical new grade separataions, new stations in Lexington and Hillsborough, plus everything needed to build Gateway Station and bring trains to downtown Charlotte.

However, perhaps they will be hesitant to give money to NC if something can't be done to break the impasse between the FRA, Norfolk-Southern, and NCDOT.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

It's my understanding that the existing CSX tracks from Centralia TO Petersburg would be improved, but not rebuilt, from whence the old S line would be reconstructed on existing ROW to North Carolina. But the big problem is trackage presently used for slow freight south from MSS to Centralia where it joins the main CSX line. In fact, an additional rail bridge across the James River may be required. Rebuilding between MSS and Centralia would probably cost in the neighborhood of $1.8 billion, plus the same amount for triple tracking from MSS to DC.

Isn't the rebuilt S line from Petersburg to Raleigh in the North Carolina budget while improvements between MSS and P'burg would come out of funds alloted to Virginia?

I would hate to see downtown Richmond bypassed by north/south passenger traffic. But maybe it would be wiser to abandon plans for major work in and around Main Street Station and improve the present main line between Centralia and Acca with a new station to replace Staples Mill.

Edited by burt
Link to comment
Share on other sites

I have a feeling that the feds would not simply send all the money to Chicago or Illinois. They probably want to have at least one significant east-coast investment that they can point to. I have a feeling that at least some of this money will be distributed to NC and/or VA. NC's EIS is actually quite close to completion, and it only has to be complete by September 2012 to qualify for the Stimulus money. California is actually no further along in the EIS process than we are.

I have heard that the cost for rebuilding the S-line from Centralia to Petersburg would be in the vicinity of $1.8 billion. That does not include bringing trains to Main Street Station. I have also heard a similar estimate for triple-tracking Richmond to Washington and building the ACCA bypass.

If we don't fund the S-line, I am really hoping that we will get everything out of our 2010 request funded: A few critical new grade separataions, new stations in Lexington and Hillsborough, plus everything needed to build Gateway Station and bring trains to downtown Charlotte.

However, perhaps they will be hesitant to give money to NC if something can't be done to break the impasse between the FRA, Norfolk-Southern, and NCDOT.

How much further along is the Charlotte Gateway Station than the Raleigh Union station? I would think they would want to get them both built as soon as possible since they are both grossly oversaturated.. Isn't Raleigh the busiest station in NC/Southeast? I would think they would really want to get Union Station going as quickly as possible..

Link to comment
Share on other sites


It's my understanding that the existing CSX tracks from Centralia TO Petersburg would be improved, but not rebuilt, from whence the old S line would be reconstructed on existing ROW to North Carolina. But the big problem is trackage presently used for slow freight south from MSS to Centralia where it joins the main CSX line. In fact, an additional rail bridge across the James River may be required. Rebuilding between MSS and Centralia would probably cost in the neighborhood of $1.8 billion, plus the same amount for triple tracking from MSS to DC.

Isn't the rebuilt S line from Petersburg to Raleigh in the North Carolina budget while improvements between MSS and P'burg would come out of funds alloted to Virginia?

I would hate to see downtown Richmond bypassed by north/south passenger traffic. But maybe it would be wiser to abandon plans for major work in and around Main Street Station and improve the present main line between Centralia and Acca with a new station to replace Staples Mill.

The EIS estimates that full construction between Centralia and Main Street station would cost $240 million. That includes a second, parallel, single track bridge over the James river. I have heard separately that the Acca Yard Bypass and overhauling the northern approach to Main Street would be in the neighborhood of $500 million (it would require a flyover perhaps miles long and two tracks wide.). Presumably the remaining $1.3 billion (out of the $1.8 billion for Richmond-DC) is for the triple tracking north of Richmond.

There's really no point to improving Centralia-Main Street until Main Street-Acca are improved as well. While these are certainly not being canceled, it would be possible and in fact result in a good service improvement to just rebuild from Centralia south as a first increment. It would cut a lot of time off of the trip from Raleigh to Washington, and also help a lot with reliability.

As for the A-line between Richmond (Centralia) and Petersburg (Collier), that would be improved and triple-tracked at an EIS-estimated cost of $229 million, including a new bridge over the Appomattox river as well.

How much further along is the Charlotte Gateway Station than the Raleigh Union station? I would think they would want to get them both built as soon as possible since they are both grossly oversaturated.. Isn't Raleigh the busiest station in NC/Southeast? I would think they would really want to get Union Station going as quickly as possible..

It's rather a lot further along; we still don't know exatly where and what design Raleigh's train station will have. Everything's been planned out in Charlotte for years.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Hello,

So a bit of interesting information. While perusing the CAPS website, I came across a little tidbit that I found a little interesting but a bit odd.. Evidently, per the NCDOT Rail Division person Allan Paul, NC is looking at three routes in the future. Asheville. Wilmington. Greenville.

Greenville? I'm surprised to see Greenville over Morehead City. I would have thought there would have been more passengers wanting to go to the beach than Greenville. Although I find it interesting, I find it more disappointing. Mainly in the fact that rail service would be good for me and extended family to get to relatives in Pamlico County if there was a stop in New Bern. They note to say "Plans continue for service to Asheville, Wilmington, and Greenville with much of the necessary property already purchased".. Hmm

In other news, they discuss the high speed rail aspect.. where they state NC is the furtherest along and best completed (even further than CA?) with the SEHSR being the only HSR line that would operate in the black on Day 1. Interesting.. Also, the end result for the HSR would be Montreal to Florida (but, I guess after this weeks FL announcement, it would be Montreal to Jacksonville, FL only since JAX is part of the SEHSR and not the FLHSR).

Other news, 4th Piedmont on schedule for 2012. 5th on schedule for 2017. 6 new locomotives and 7 new cars by Q12013. Pax info system in the works.

Carolina Associateion for Passenger Rail website

Link to comment
Share on other sites

An interesting column in Trains states that the reason for delays in the NC HSR track upgrade funding is due to disagreements with NS over service standards (e.g. how much freight will be delayed due to the dispatching needs of expanded pax service). It also discusses similar delays in VA and WA.

Washington State has untied its knot with the freight railroads and an agreement signed guaranteeing it would receive its $590 million stimulus payment for high speed rail.

That leaves North Carolina and Virginia as the only states left that have been unable to sign the agreement (for reasons outlined in the article linked above by Mr. Thacker.)

There are two issues at stake here.

1. The current continuing resolution will keep the government running for 2 more weeks. At that point, there needs to be either a full budget in place, or another continuing resolution will have to be passed by both houses. To get a full budget passed, that would either involve (a) The senate passing its own buget, that budget going to conference committee, and the result being passed by both the house and the senate - unlikely in 2 weeks. (b) The senate passing the house budget word-for-word, making a conference committee unnecessary. If this were to happen before NC was able to sign the agreement and accept the stimulus money, NC's HSR stimulus award would go away. Such a budget might face veto by Obama, but that would be a politically risky move since it might resulted in a government shutdown.

2. If NC can get its agreement with NS hammered out in time, it might be in the running for a good sized chunk of the reallocated money from Florida. If not, it is hard to imagine anything reallocated from Florida at all winding up in NC.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

As depressing as it may be thanks for the update on the stimulus cash.

In another story it appears that folks in Columbia are discussing commuter rail to Charlotte for the purpose of connecting to SEHSR. Knowing how things work in SC I suspect that this is just talk, but it is good to know that they are thinking about it.

http://www.wistv.com....asp?S=14156702

EDIT: It does appear that the some of this discussion is based on the current SEHSR configuration which is build around the silly Raleigh-Columbia routing. I really wish they would redraw that map to connect CLT-Columbia (on to Florida) with HSR. Perhaps this could seed that effort.

Edited by kermit
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

×
×
  • Create New...

Important Information

By using this site you agree to our Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. We have placed cookies on your device to help make this website better. You can adjust your cookie settings, otherwise we'll assume you're okay to continue.