AMA: GoTriangle Commuter Rail Project - Sept 23 1-3pm

How do other CR implementations inform the Triangle’s? What key things should we be trying to emulate, and which are we trying to avoid?

ANSWER: We’ve actually interviewed several transportation leaders about commuter rail in their areas, and we asked those questions! Find videos here: Videos - Ready For Rail

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Will the initial Garner to Durham line be used as a baseline to determine if future lines would be worthwhile?

ANSWER: In phase 1 of this study, we looked at how we could extend that route westward through Orange County to Mebane in Alamance County and eastward to Selma in Johnston County. Those are both future expansion options. You can find more about that here: Project Updates - Ready For Rail

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Is there any possibility that “new tracks” would be explored in the future. For example, Wake Forest (or even Triangle Town Center) to RTP is a huge commute pattern. Is there any thinking that a new rail line for that movement would be feasible / explored. Also off hand thinking Durham - Chapel Hill, RTP - Chapel Hill

ANSWER: Additional potential rail extensions and high-capacity transit are included in the long-range, regional 2045 Metropolitan Transportation Plan. This plan includes rail connections from Cary to Apex and Raleigh to Youngsville. Service patterns would be evaluated in future planning efforts for those connections. The plan also includes bus rapid transit and rapid bus connections between Chapel Hill and Downtown Durham and between Chapel Hill and RTP.

This plan is created and adopted by the Capital Area Metropolitan Planning Organization and the Durham-Chapel Hill-Carrboro Metropolitan Planning Organization. These bodies are made up of technical staff and elected officials representing local governments, transit agencies, NCDOT and other entities. They are charged with developing the long-range transportation vision. This plan is currently being updated through 2050. More information can be found here:

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Even if not a permanent late night / weekend route is implemented has a “surge route” been evaluated. For example could trains run during Bulls, NC State etc games?

ANSWER: Some commuter rail services operate special event trains. For example, Nashville MTA operates special event service on July 4 each year. This is something we could definitely explore.


Any possibility of less frequent commuter rail to outlying further out but still commutable cities. For instance, Rocky Mount, Henderson, Fayetteville. For instance if there are 10 trains per day that go to Garner, 2 per day continue to Fayetteville or other outlying city.

ANSWER: In addition to the rail projects described in other answers, the North Carolina Comprehensive State Rail Plan includes future inter-city passenger service. The NCDOT Rail division is also a member of the Southeast Corridor Commission, which has developed a Southeast Regional Rail Plan to guide future intercity passenger and freight investments. A preliminary feasibility study was recently completed for passenger rail service connecting Raleigh and Fayetteville by their respective Metropolitan Transportation Planning Organizations.

Rail capacity improvements necessary for commuter rail may also help support other future rail service expansions. The current study will help GoTriangle and its partners better define capacity needs of the current line and the benefits of infrastructure improvements for commuter rail and other rail operations.

More information on these other efforts can be found here:

NC Rail Plan: NCDOT: Comprehensive State Rail Plan
Southeast Corridor Commission:
Raleigh – Fayetteville Rail Study: Rail - NC Capital Area Metropolitan Planning Organization


Given that the Garner - Durham line is the only line at this stage right now, is it estimated that there will be any positive impacts on the I-40 travel time? I’d assume although minimal benefits may be seen, having the option of rail for those nearby is still well worth it!

ANSWER: We’ve learned repeatedly in the Triangle area that building new highway lanes does not mitigate traffic. The beauty of the commuter rail is that it will provide an option for commuters that they can rely on. A regional, connected transit network with the commuter rail as its spine is essential to any hope that we can maintain our quality of life into the next generations. Commuters simply must have options that don’t involve getting stuck in gridlock or driving bumper to bumper.


How will the implementation of future lines be determined?

ANSWER: All major transit investments are the result of transit plans that governing bodies have chosen to pursue. Governing bodies would have to decide whether to study other lines. In phase 1 of this study, we looked at how we could extend the route westward through Orange County to Mebane in Alamance County and eastward to Selma in Johnston County. Those are both future expansion options. You can find more about that here:

The majority of proposed stations and track mileage in the GTCR proposal is in Wake County and Wake Co. has 3x the annual transit tax revenue as Durham Co. Still, it’s all but assumed that Durham Co. will have to pay a significant amount into this project. (See this discussion in the commuter rail thread for additional context.) Relatively, will Durham Co.'s transit budget be more burdened by this project than Wake Co.?

ANSWER: We are working with our partners, including the counties, to determine how the cost of the project would be shared.


Rail companies around the world use the land under/over/around train tracks and stations that they own, and use it to offset train operation costs. Since land needs to be bought to build stations and other facilities, anyways, does GoTriangle have any plans or ideas to perform land value capturing too? Put another way, have GTCR planners considered taking advantage of stations’ real estate to help pay for this project?

ANSWER: GoTriangle is currently working on its first joint development project with a private sector partner at Raleigh Union Station We hope to identify more opportunities like this at other locations in the future.


On a similar note, is GoTriangle looking into alternative revenue sources like sponsorships and bus stop advertisements?

ANSWER: Not yet.

What are the limitations to this study? For example, @orulz wondered here if Morrisville’s Park West Village development could support a train station. I’m wondering if this study’s methodology may obscure that possibility by, for example, using ridership models based on 2010 census data (when Morrisville has clearly grown since then).

ANSWER: The goals and activities of this study were determined through coordination among GoTriangle, North Carolina Railroad Company (NCRR), North Carolina Department of Transportation (NCDOT), Capital Area Metropolitan Planning Organization (CAMPO), Durham-Chapel Hill-Carrboro Metropolitan Planning Organization (DCHC MPO), Wake County, Durham County and Johnston County.

The GTCR feasibility study is using outputs from the 2045 MTP, including future year projections for 2040. The current opportunity analysis work being led by TJCOG incorporates 2020 census data and 2018 employee home location data. This work includes studies of affordable housing, travel markets and existing and future land use and development patterns. As the 2050 MTP is completed, further analysis will use data from that planning process.

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Can you talk more about how accessibility will be baked into GTCR’s design? I don’t mean this just in the ADA sense, but also for rider experience at large (e.g. easy, intuitive bus transfers; navigation and wayfinding; integration with other services like BRT and FAST buses).

ANSWER: We will make every effort to implement easy-to-use connections and wayfinding tools, and we aim to exceed ADA-related requirements.

Tell us your favorite transit travel story! This doesn’t have to be in the Triangle, as long as you used public transport to get there.

ANSWER: We realize this isn’t what you meant. :blush: but here are a few of our favorite transit stories:

Favorite new transit program story:
Favorite unexpected story:
Favorite #trytransit story:
Favorite transit is a part of the community story:
Well, maybe this one:
Favorite #getonboard story:
Favorite transit operator story: Friends, freedom and a sense of community: Driving a GoTriangle bus is as much about kindness as commuting | GoTriangle

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Is the entire commuter rail corridor going to be double tracked?

ANSWER: Phase 1 of this study indicated that double-tracking would be required to support the proposed level of service. The current phase of study should give us a better idea of the needed track infrastructure.


What is the average speed slated to be on the corridor ?

ANSWER: The average speed will be about 35 mph.

Is a phased rollout being considered, or is it currently preferred to make all necessary improvements to stations, tracks, and equipment prior to ribbon cutting?

ANSWER: All necessary improvements would be made prior to operations. However, as noted in other answers, there is the potential for future extensions and additional commuter rail corridors.

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What can we as a community do to help?

ANSWER: Thanks for asking! We need people to understand this is not GoTriangle’s project. It is the region’s project. The people who will decide whether to proceed with the project are elected or appointed officials. So letting your elected officials know you support the project would help. This includes members of the CAMPO board found here: [


If you are a member of other community groups, agencies or neighborhoods you think need to know about the project, you can request a presentation here: Community Involvement / Meetings - Ready For Rail


The MIS for this project estimated the construction cost to be around $1.6B-$2.1B, extrapolated to the year of construction for inflation. If most of the rail is to be shared with NCRR, why is the estimated cost so high? I understand that one of the aims of the current study is to get better cost estimates, but do you have any insight on how (in)accurate that estimate was?

ANSWER: Capital cost estimates from Phase 1 of this study reflect design and construction of the infrastructure, rolling stock and related support costs such as construction services, project management, surveys, testing, insurance, legal services, permits and other owner costs. Contingencies were applied to the capital cost to account for uncertainty in both the estimating process and the scope of the project. Estimates were informed by industry sources, including the Federal Transit Administration (FTA), for comparable pricing, and by NCRR and NCDOT Rail Division staff and related work. They do not reflect engineering drawings or other specifics that will be established during design.


Curious about the NC State station location - is there only going to be 1 or will there be 2 (one west and one east). Has connectivity between the future BRT/Wolfline/Pullen Park Bridge been considered here.

ANSWER: Proposed station locations can be viewed on our website at

Thank you for answering! Is this something GoTriangle could look into the future, or is there a reason y’all haven’t (or can’t) do so?