Archived

This topic is now archived and is closed to further replies.

CorgiMatt

SC Passenger Railways

29 posts in this topic

A comprehensive study on rail in S.C. is being conducted for the purpose of improving the state's economy. The study will involve assessing existing rail lines in the state in relation to where mega-distribution centers could be built. It will also examine using rail for moving people. The railroad hub towns and cities across the state could benefit.

http://www.postandcourier.com/news/2008/au..._on_track50808/

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites


Very exciting.

They call out rail "mega-sites" which I presume would be places like the massive Orangeburg County project, which I assume would benefit greatly from rail access.

Rail hub towns are historically Columbia, Spartanburg, and Charleston. However, in the modern day we can't forget our friends in Greenville, Rock Hill/Charlotte, Aiken/Augusta, Florence, and Myrtle Beach... every city with a rail connection stands to benefit. The cities with the most population and employment will probably benefit most directly.

This could be huge on its own, and eve more so if we teamed up with the NC RR system. There is an article in the Observer today about rail traffic between Charlotte and Raleigh being up 43%.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

What would it take for passenger rail expansion in SC? Currently, there's only 11 Amtrak rail stops in the state. The three lines that run through SC force you to exit the state for connection to other lines.

The Crescent stops in Clemson, Greenville, and Spartanburg.

The Silver Service / Palmetto line splits in Savannah and Raleigh. One route stops at Denmark, Columbia, and Camden, while the other stops in Yemassee, Charleston, Kingstree, Florence, and Dillon.

So, what would it take for greater connectivity and the ability to go East/West? Or is it even possible to get funding for such a thing?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

^North Carolina did it by buying its own tracks and equipment to run trains in addition to Amtrak. It's funded by the NCDOT via the State Legislature. If it wasn't for the NC sponsored RR then Charlotte & Raleigh would be limited to a couple of Amtrak trains that stops in the middle of the night and none of the smaller towns would have rail service. The NC Railroad now owns significant rail ROW in the state. Like SC if the state had not done this, there would be no east/west service. They have a complicated arrangement with the freight lines and Amtrac where they all use each others tracks to move people and material.

You can read more about it at their website, http://bytrain.org In particular, click on the link about corridor preservation.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
What would it take for passenger rail expansion in SC? Currently, there's only 11 Amtrak rail stops in the state. The three lines that run through SC force you to exit the state for connection to other lines.

The Crescent stops in Clemson, Greenville, and Spartanburg.

The Silver Service / Palmetto line splits in Savannah and Raleigh. One route stops at Denmark, Columbia, and Camden, while the other stops in Yemassee, Charleston, Kingstree, Florence, and Dillon.

So, what would it take for greater connectivity and the ability to go East/West? Or is it even possible to get funding for such a thing?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites


Only problem with a lot of the rail roads that connect SC's major cities as well as border cities of Charlotte, Augusta & Savannah is that they were all designed a very long time ago. They are not 'straight shots' from one city to another, but are very curving & go far out of their way, in comparison to the interstate highway system.

I first realized his in the 80's, being a train & map geek I draw potential passenger rail maps for SC cities - & the routes were very convulated & inefficient. In particular, Columbia to Augusta, Columbia to Charleston, Columbia to Charlotte & any route to Myrtle Beach. It doesn't help that SC's railroad system is ancient (considering the first railroad in the country was in SC), but that many of the existing routes have served backwater locations & lastly many of the lines have been decommissioned over the years.

I think though the first priority would be a rail line connecting the two Amtrak routes - from Columbia to Greenville.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
.....

I think though the first priority would be a rail line connecting the two Amtrak routes - from Columbia to Greenville.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The railroad does go to Charleston, its just not very direct on a map. The reason for that dogleg is the Congaree Swamp, Lake Marion, and Lake Moultrie. The lines were built long before the interstates, so it probably reflects the "path of least resistance" so to speak. We also can't forget that Sumter and Orangeburg had rail stops too. Either way, the routes should definitely be beefed up so it can handle more freight and passenger trains.

tesh- why Columbia to Greenville? I think that Charleston to Columbia should be first, since Charleston will be a significant destination.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I do agree the most obvious route would be Charleston to Columbia & then to Greenville - but I ommited the Charleston connection just because I don't think the existing rail network would provide an efficient train ride, it would take too long.

Regarding the railroad between Charleston & Columbia - what is shown on the map is really only the remaining route that has been cobbled together to provide a rail connection between the two cities. There never was really a direct rail connection from Charleston to Columbia per say - but only connections to Augusta & Florence as well as the coastal railroad to Savannah. The primary interest in building railroads in SC (such as the historic Best Friend route) was to ship the cotton to the major seaports. The remaining connection between Charleston & Columbia is the remaining rail segment connection Charleston to Augusta & a connector rail line that served Orangeburg, connecting it to Columbia & the Augusta - Charleston railroad.

Correction - I did research that the Columbia - Orangeburg rail branch was part of the original Charleston - Augusta rail charter. So that rail section through Orangeburg was built to provide direct rail service to Charleston. But much of the problem regarding the circumventing route through Orangeburg was due to the terrain - which in the 1830's was too difficult at the time to engineer.

So - only if the railroad wasn't one of the first - possibly if it was designed just a few decades later we would have a more direct route between Columbia & Charleston. But another problem lay with Orangeburg, which at the time was comparably sized with Columbia - they wanted a rail connection too. So instead of a direct line connecting to Charleston, they built a line to serve both cities.

References: http://www.carolana.com/SC/Transportation/...e_columbia.html

Library of Congress SC rail map: http://lcweb2.loc.gov/cgi-bin/map_item.pl

Sorry - a lot of this is off topic, but it is fascinating. Another issue at that time with building railroads between 2 cities was that railroad companies actually owned multi-year contracts that gave them sole rights to serve two cities. So the original railroad builder was able to bar a competing railroad to building a better route. This occurred between Columbia & Augusta (Hamburg, SC), another railroad company wanted to build a more direct route, but was not allowed to.

Lastly - this is an interesting 1885 article about railroad building in SC http://query.nytimes.com/mem/archive-free/...9679C94649FD7CF , a company was planning on building a route that would compete with Spartanburg's Howard Gap route through Greenville. Also the article discusses an issue that we have a problem with today - many of the railroads through SC do not specifically serve SC cities, but were built to connect NC or GA. Especially notable is the railroad that today goes through Athens, GA to Lauren & Chester into NC - these railroads actually were very damaging to Charleston. Which explains why farmers in Spartanburg County often did business with Augusta - this is in reference to an ancestor of mine who farmed in Spartanburg County, he traded his cotton with Augusta traders, not in Charleston.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Notice the direct shot from Columbia to Savannah.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

^ That's part of the main Seaboard Air Line Railroad - the primary coastal railroad (besides the road running through Charleston connecting Savannah & Florence) running from Jacksonville to Richmond.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I wonder where some of the suggested "mega sites" would be located in the Upstate? As I was driving up I-26, I noticed a sign for 260 acres for sell at John Dodd road in the Greater Spartanburg Area. This has both interstate frontage and a rail line behind it. Could this potentially be one of those sites? Any other ideas of potential locations?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites


Both I-85 and I-95 parallel tracks are federally designated as high-speed corridors, for future upgrades. I see little chance of anything coming of that, but why in the world hasn't South Carolina worked with North Carolina to extend the Charlotte-Raleigh-New York trains south at least to Greenville or Columbia? Unless there are capacity constraints on the track, having the Charlotte trains run to Greenville wouldn't take much of an upgrade, as the Crescent already runs on that route.

Historically, South Carolina didn't have much in the way of passenger service; the Atlanta-Charlotte-Washington and New York-Miami lines crossed the state but were mostly through trains; the Southern Railway also had some Chicago-Cincinnati-Asheville trains continue to Columbia, by way of Spartanburg, through the 1960s. The state is far more populated now, especially along I-85 and at the coast, and so surely the state will get more service at some point.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

^Spartanburg's history is centered around its status as a passenger and freight rail hub along with textiles.

Also, its my understanding- and I could be wrong about this- that the federal government is funding the HSR in segments. Right now its Richmond to Charlotte is in planning, but it will eventually get to Charlotte-Spartanburg-Greenville-Atlanta.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
^Spartanburg's history is centered around its status as a passenger and freight rail hub along with textiles.

Also, its my understanding- and I could be wrong about this- that the federal government is funding the HSR in segments. Right now its Richmond to Charlotte is in planning, but it will eventually get to Charlotte-Spartanburg-Greenville-Atlanta.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
.....

Also, its my understanding- and I could be wrong about this- that the federal government is funding the HSR in segments. ....

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

After trolling their website, I came across this- a map showing existing and proposed train routes. Note the SCDOT study corridors in yellow. Interesting.

planned.gif

Then there's this one. This is where I start to question this gorups data, because the proposed route between Greenville and Spartanburg didn't pass the feasibility study.

transit.gif

There is also a link to a resolution that is going to be proposed in the legislature this session supporting passenger rail in SC.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Myrtle Beach would probably get train service faster if it studied a route to Wilmington so that it can connect up with the NCDOT's plan to extend its state service there. I am pretty sure the Myrtle Beach to Conway connector is dead.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
This is where I start to question this groups data, because the proposed route between Greenville and Spartanburg didn't pass the feasibility study.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

This is separate from the SEHSR, but thanks for that link.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.