dubone

Charlotte Gateway Station and Railroad Improvements

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Yup, me on Dunbar. Not broke down, out of gas at midnight or so on Saturday. 15 minutes walk from the house. Sunday recovery with the House of Prayer services in my ears.
Your walk from the station to Matthews is an 1880's tale.
Any man worth his underwear has a story something like this of poor planning, overconfidence, stupidity, and the actions of a yoof.

True story


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Oh yes, we rode in that one from village center to hotel. 

Southern Pines is the Amtrak station, a few miles from Pinehurst proper. Southern Pines is is the Amtrak station for the Silver Star east coast line. The train may not stop if there are no passengers to board or disembark but the hotel concierge at Pinehurst said there are people coming and going almost every day. It is an unstaffed station: ticket kiosk only, no baggage assistance.

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So there is a new mystery track at the Charlotte Yard entrance, it starts at 36th street (it dead ends at the overpass, note the gravel pile in photo) and runs to the yard entrance just under Matheson.  It is fully welded rail, well ballasted and was set down and aligned over the past three months.  There is also grading (but not ballast) in place to extend the track and switch into the main just after Craighead (pending a new bridge span over 36th).

Anyone know if this track the first stage of the Northend Passenger Bypass track that was proposed under CRISP? (see below). I didn't think this was part of Gateway Stage 1 funding but I hope I am wrong about that.

 

image.png.3ac8e5e44908dcaf8b6fa4a1a51b1afc.png

IMG_1171.JPG

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Anyone know if the City bought the NS rail yard on the north side of town west of the BLE?  I feel like NS used to show up as the owners on polaris, but now nothing is showing up.  I want to say the City had an option to purchase as a result of the new intermodal lease at the airport, but can't remember the details.

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It’s still NS on Polaris.  

The city bought part of the old intermodal yard for the BLE and it’s infrastructure.

Edited by DEnd
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The city only bought the exact portion used for the light rail.  The rest of that Intermodal Yard (train to trucks) that moved the airport has been slated for another N-S use below.  The majority of the yard never had any change, nor is any likely.  

 

Quote

P-5702 
$976K
"OTHER" FUNDING REPRESENTS PARTICIPATION BY NORFOLK SOUTHERN CORPORATION
ESTABLISH A NEW THOROUGHBRED BULK
TRANSFER (TBT) FACILITY IN CHARLOTTE.

 

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14 hours ago, dubone said:

The city only bought the exact portion used for the light rail.  The rest of that Intermodal Yard (train to trucks) that moved the airport has been slated for another N-S use below.  The majority of the yard never had any change, nor is any likely.  

 

 

Wish we could just buy and redevelop this land once Amtrak moves

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Why doesn't Amtrak (or the NCDOT, or somebody) build a small Amtrak station at the Charlotte airport?

The line is a quick trip from the current Amtrak station to the airport, and there seems to be plenty of land at the airport where a siding and a small platform could be built.

Yes, I'm sure Norfolk Southern wouldn't be thrilled, but surely adding additional capacity, with another siding, or some type of payment could make NS happy (since the tracks belong to it).

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You are right, NS is the limiting factor at the airport. The airport has become a busy place for freight since the intermodal yard opened up -- If asked about adding passenger trains west of Gateway NS will certainly say "sorry, we are at capacity."

They might be willing to cooperate if compensated appropriately. They would probably ask for: 

  • A third track between Gateway and the airport station (I am guessing about $100-200 million for five miles)
  • Purchasing 25 feet of their ROW at an inflated price
  • New bridges over 77, Billy Graham and Josh Bham
  • Possibly a flyover / under at the Columbia subdivision. If designed properly it would make Rock Hill commuter rail more feasible. Maybe $50-60 million?
  • Station, turning and storage facilities along with a connector back to the main for the Crescent and future trains South.

Its all doable but a big price tag for 5 trains a day -- especially when you can catch a West-line LRT to Gateway station in less than 15 minutes. Its much more reasonable for 10 round trips per day on the Piedmont as well as using some of the track work for commuter rail service to Rock Hill / Clover and a possible reroute of the Silver Star, although none of those trains would be able to  stop at the airport.

The SEHSR has an airport station in its blueprints. In addition, the current speaker of the NC House also forced a feasibility study of extending the Piedmont trains to Kings Mountain (his district, report not yet released). Given this level of activity it seems likely an airport heavy rail station will will happen sooner than later, unfortunately I would not bet on sooner.

Edited by kermit
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On 2/18/2019 at 10:55 AM, kermit said:

You are right, NS is the limiting factor at the airport. The airport has become a busy place for freight since the intermodal yard opened up -- If asked about adding passenger trains west of Gateway NS will certainly say "sorry, we are at capacity."

They might be willing to cooperate if compensated appropriately. They would probably ask for: 

  • A third track between Gateway and the airport station (I am guessing about $100-200 million for five miles)
  • Purchasing 25 feet of their ROW at an inflated price
  • New bridges over 77, Billy Graham and Josh Bham
  • Possibly a flyover / under at the Columbia subdivision. If designed properly it would make Rock Hill commuter rail more feasible. Maybe $50-60 million?
  • Station, turning and storage facilities along with a connector back to the main for the Crescent and future trains South.

Its all doable but a big price tag for 5 trains a day -- especially when you can catch a West-line LRT to Gateway station in less than 15 minutes. Its much more reasonable for 10 round trips per day on the Piedmont as well as using some of the track work for commuter rail service to Rock Hill / Clover and a possible reroute of the Silver Star, although none of those trains would be able to  stop at the airport.

The SEHSR has an airport station in its blueprints. In addition, the current speaker of the NC House also forced a feasibility study of extending the Piedmont trains to Kings Mountain (his district, report not yet released). Given this level of activity it seems likely an airport heavy rail station will will happen sooner than later, unfortunately I would not bet on sooner.

Did the geniuses at CATS/NCDOT/CLT not put something into the NS intermodal contract that in exchange for land at the airport, NS would not be a limiting factor for all that you mentioned above? Just a simple bullet point saying they'd work together on it?!

Edited by ChessieCat

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Some train-related speculative news for Gateway.

First, the planned IPO for Virgin Trains US was cancelled last week. The company was not very forthcoming about its reasoning,  reports are that they are struggling to raise sufficient capital for their aggressive expansion plans (and their current Miami to West Palm service is hemorrhaging money). While they haven't made any explicit statements about their future, I think their previously mentioned Atlanta to Charlotte service is unlikely to happen.

Second, the WSJ broke a story of Amtrak’s long-distance fleet renewal strategy this morning. The current Amtrak CEO wants to scrap long distance service as the equipment is retired and increase corridor service with new equipment where appropriate, the Charlotte to Atlanta corridor was mentioned several times:

Quote

The goal is to revamp the way Amtrak runs trains along the aging network of national routes it already maintains, with more frequent service between pairs of cities in the fastest-growing parts of the country, such as Atlanta and Charlotte, N.C., or Cleveland and Cincinnati. Running more trains over shorter distances would allow Amtrak to better serve those commercial corridors where rail can compete with flying and driving, railroad officials said.

(Not sure why Cleveland and Cincinnati are mentioned there). https://www.wsj.com/articles/amtrak-plan-to-expand-ridership-could-sidetrack-storied-trains-11550664000

The Amtrak fleet renewal stuff  is all bundled up in a tricky political appropriation process. In addition, there  are lots of obstacles to more Atlanta service on NS tracks (and that is what is being discussed here). Having said all that, I think Amtrak is more likely to pull off multiple Charlotte to Atlanta trains than a private company planning on new ROW. 

Edited by kermit
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That is fantastic news. My family and I travel CLT - ATL very frequently. My wife just took Amtrak for the first time and by all accounts had a great time (other than the 1am departure time.....) better seats than Economy on an airline and the freedom to get up and walk around, etc. Lovely scenery without having to focus on driving and the idiots all around. We're looking to incorporate this into our travels much more and between the new Gateway station and hopefully this expanded service will be fantastic for us!

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^It's nonsense that the only times you can get to/from Atlanta are after 1AM daily from Charlotte.  When you add Greenville/Spartanburg to the mix it makes perfect sense for daytime trains that can compete with driving or flying. 

Edited by ChessieCat
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I might have missed it, but doesn't anybody know if the buildings on those 2 parcels will be build before the completion of the gateway station. Meaning the apartments, commercial, and hotel? Asking for a friend...Who is a developer....:)

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11 minutes ago, j-man said:

I might have missed it, but doesn't anybody know if the buildings on those 2 parcels will be build before the completion of the gateway station. Meaning the apartments, commercial, and hotel? Asking for a friend...Who is a developer....:)

could you clarify which parcels? 

I'm assuming you mean the stuff shown in this around the station? If so that would depend on the establish phasing by whatever developer gets chosen.

image.thumb.png.d4561d02efa8d4ca8bb663d94077e546.png

 

Edited by ricky_davis_fan_21

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3 minutes ago, ricky_davis_fan_21 said:

could you clarify which parcels? 

Image result for charlotte gateway station

the one right across from BB&T Ballpark, and the one right beside that one. 

7 minutes ago, ricky_davis_fan_21 said:

could you clarify which parcels? 

I'm assuming you mean the stuff shown in this around the station? If so that would depend on the establish phasing by whatever developer gets chosen.

 

 

Yes, those are the ones I am referring to. 

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7 minutes ago, j-man said:

Image result for charlotte gateway station

the one right across from BB&T Ballpark, and the one right beside that one. 

So thats an older version, not the latest "massing" being used. But yea. there isn't enough information out there to share about timeline. As of now they are in the RFP (Request for Proposals) phase, which means they are accepting proposals from development companies. From there the best will be chosen. FWIW, the county has barred associated developers of 7th & Tryon from publicizing their proposals, so I assume we will be waiting a while to see the proposals for this as well. Phasing is a big part of a RFP so once the chosen proposal is made public, we will know what the developers have in mind. I'd expect it'll be built out in phasing as market allows, with the station itself breaking ground first, but taking longer to get together. Also worth noting, these kind of deals take on a long due diligence period generally, as we can see with Brooklyn Village. 

Edited by ricky_davis_fan_21
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2 hours ago, ricky_davis_fan_21 said:

Also worth noting, these kind of deals take on a long due diligence period generally, as we can see with Brooklyn Village. 

Due diligence to find what? Lenders are just too risk-averse to mixed-use, while funding the same bland apartment projects over and over again.

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Due diligence to find what? Lenders are just too risk-averse to mixed-use, while funding the same bland apartment projects over and over again.

Due diligence doesn’t have to mean issues with the lender. The issue in these cases is the glacial movement of bureaucracy.



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3 hours ago, ricky_davis_fan_21 said:


Due diligence doesn’t have to mean issues with the lender. The issue in these cases is the glacial movement of bureaucracy.



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What bureaucracy? UMUD offers the broadest range of entitlements of any zoning district in Charlotte. With virtually no height limits in UMUD, the sky's the limit.

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9 hours ago, southslider said:

What bureaucracy? UMUD offers the broadest range of entitlements of any zoning district in Charlotte. With virtually no height limits in UMUD, the sky's the limit.

It is the fact of dealing with governmental agencies that draws the process out.  every joint venture with a government agency takes much longer due to the bureaucracy you have to go through and additional scrutiny.  If this land was simply transferred to a private company yes things would move much faster.  However this is government owned land that can't be done. 

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18 hours ago, ChessieCat said:

^It's nonsense that the only times you can get to/from Atlanta are after 1AM daily from Charlotte.  When you add Greenville/Spartanburg to the mix it makes perfect sense for daytime trains that can compete with driving or flying. 

It is certainly nonsense, since even in the '70s there were additional trains on the route.

However, I don't see anything changing:

1. The Norfolk Southern line is very congested and passenger trains on the line are subject to extensive and chronic delays, which make them basically unusable for short trips.

2. Any Amtrak line shorter than 750 miles has to be state-funded.  SC has zero interest in passenger trains, and Georgia has next to zero interest.  Amtrak hasn't added routes above 750 miles in ages.

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1 hour ago, PuppiesandKittens said:

It is certainly nonsense, since even in the '70s there were additional trains on the route.

However, I don't see anything changing:

1. The Norfolk Southern line is very congested and passenger trains on the line are subject to extensive and chronic delays, which make them basically unusable for short trips.

2. Any Amtrak line shorter than 750 miles has to be state-funded.  SC has zero interest in passenger trains, and Georgia has next to zero interest.  Amtrak hasn't added routes above 750 miles in ages.

Yes, the Crescent service is very unreliable. If somebody has the option to drive or fly between those destinations, it is almost always better.

Amtrak ranks each host rail company with a letter grade for their delays. Norfolk Southern got an "F" rating, along with Canadian National. In 2017, the Crescent was late 67% of the time. The average delay on the Crescent was holding 1 hour and 40 minutes ; with many trains having delays of over 3 hours. Unless this is resolved with new tracks or some agreement with NS, this route will largely not be a viable means of transportation for most people to Atlanta.

Today's Crescent for example departed Charlotte 30 minutes late at 3:15AM. It is now expected in Atlanta 3 hours and 25 minutes late at 11:38AM for a total of 8 hours and 23 minutes of travel time (about the same amount of time as flying to London).  The effective travel speed is 28 miles per hour. 

Contrast that with Amtrak's Hiawatha service between Minneapolis and Chicago. It arrives on time 97% of the time, with 90% of passenger trains not having to hold for freight. The rail host on that line receives an "A" rating.

https://media.amtrak.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/10/Amtrak-Host-Railroad-Report-Card_FAQ_Route-Detail-2018-10-15.pdf

Edited by CLT2014
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