Obviously our location is the main key there, but a nice new station right downtown has gotta help with that too.
Good article about the new Piedmont round trip + S-Line development. No groundbreaking information, but was again struck by how ridership is reportedly up 48% this year!
Per this post in the Amtrak subreddit: supposedly the FRA was planning to have already announced a short-list of the corridors by now, but even that is being pushed back to October. Seems like we may not have results for a while. At least it’s due to there being lots of interest in the program!
I remember hearing at some point that the S-Line wouldn’t be selected in this round of funding, but that it would be selected in the next round of funding.
Might need to find room for quite a few additional platforms!
NCDOT released it’s updated STIP recently and while due to the department’s funding situation it only includes projects from the previous prioritization schedule, there are several passenger rail-related projects across the state that have updated time frames:
- P-5725: Kannapolis train station second platform and pedestrian underpass - ROW acquisition in progress, funding for construction FY 2024.
- P-5726: Salisbury train station second platform and pedestrian underpass - under construction, funded in FY 2024.
- P-5732: Lexington train station - expected construction funding FY 2024.
- P-5200: Piedmont+Northern rail corridor (Gastonia-Mount Holly, including spur to Belmont) reactivation. Not much info on cost or timeline here, but could this be what NCDOT is looking at for the Charlotte-Kings Mountain corridor they submitted to the FRA under the Corridor ID Program?
- P-5701: Hillsborough train station - “under construction” (supposedly, although as far as I am aware it is not yet).
- P-5705: Charlotte Gateway Station - “under construction,” but that only reflects the platform and track work. The actual station house has yet to materialize.
- P-5741: CSX A-Line second main track - funded for preliminary engineering only. It appears this would rehabilitate the existing Roanoke River bridge in Weldon, construct a second main, and construct a new connection to the SA-Line that heads east toward Suffolk.
There are also plenty of crossing elimination/grade separation projects across the state, new trainset and locomotives as previously announced, and ADA accessibility improvements at stations.
(the STIP map still seems to show data from the 2020-2029 STIP, so the excel sheet may be more accurate)
Excited for new stations!!
Gotta think all the 2nd platform additions mean they’re pretty serious about adding more frequency.
Any info on the new trainsets? Is the new piedmont route being serviced by a newer locomotive or same same?
Based on the description and funding for P-5719, I’m not honestly sure. P-5719, which is defined to cover the Piedmont Corridor, includes $9,637,000 to “PURCHASE AND REFURBISH RAIL CARS FOR PIEDMONT SERVICE EXPANSION.” There is also P-5719C, which allocates $212,528,000 for “NEW TRAINS AND MAINTENANCE FACILITY” along the same corridor, but I only recall hearing that the Carolinian would receive the new Siemens trains included in Amtrak’s order.
P-5719A, which is marked as complete, was to “ACQUIRE AND REBUILD 2 ADDITIONAL LOCOMOTIVES.” P-5719B, marked as “in progress,” is to “ACQUIRE AND REFURBISH 2 COACH AND 1 LOUNGE/BAGGAGE RAIL CARS.”
There’s also a bunch of stuff funded for the Piedmont Corridor under P-2918:
- P-2918: “TRAIN 74 / 75 OPERATIONS BETWEEN CHARLOTTE AND RALEIGH, EQUIPMENT AND CAPITAL YARD MAINTENANCE FACILITY.” (I believe this is in progress or complete)
- P-2918A: “EQUIPMENT REBUILD - 2 F59PHI LOCOMOTIVES” (listed as “in progress”)
- P-2918B: “PURCHASE 2 USED LOCOMOTIVES” (listed as complete)
- P-2918C: “EQUIPMENT REHABILITATION - 3 LOCOMOTIVES” (in progress)
- P-2918D: “EQUIPMENT REHABILITATION - 3 PASSENGER CARS” (complete)
- P2918-E: “PASSENGER TRAIN SECURITY SYSTEM, CCTV DATA NETWORK AND GENERATORS” (in progress)
- P-2918G: “PURCHASE 4 USED PASSENGER CARS AND REHABILITATE 7 PASSENGER CARS” (in progress)
- P-5918I: “EQUIP 9 STATIONS AND PLATFORMS WITH ADA/FRA PIDS” (in progress)
Also forgot to mention in my previous post, the S-Line is getting a lot of attention reflected in some of the grade separation projects NCDOT is working on as well as the federal grant they received to advance environmental review and preliminary design work. P-5753, which is programmed in the STIP for planning and environmental study only, includes the description “CSX S-LINE FROM RALEIGH TO VIRGINIA STATE LINE AND CSX SA-LINE FROM RALEIGH TO WELDON. AQUIRE RIGHT OF WAY, UPGRADE EXISTING TRACK AND CONSTRUCT NEW TRACK.”
My assumption is that the new sets will replace the existing Piedmont sets, and those existing sets as well as the refurbs they’re planning to purchase will be moved to other corridors that NCDOT submitted to Corridor ID. The Piedmont is essentially the backbone of the future system, so naturally they’d want to have the newest equipment running on their most important corridor.
We never got any official info about the vendor for the new sets, right? I think everyone assumes Siemens – and Southeast Passenger Rail Initiative reported as such – but I still haven’t seen anything official.
Someone on Reddit posted a link to a draft of the Western North Carolina Passenger Rail Feasibility Study, and it has some interesting highlights.
The corridor being studied is the 139-mile rail Norfolk Southern AS-Line between Asheville and Salisbury. A transfer would likely be required in Salisbury unless trains were extended on to Raleigh or Charlotte. The study assumed three daily trips, with a travel time between 3:25 and 3:48 depending on intermediate stops and the location of the Asheville station. The study estimates approximately 100,000 annual trips on the corridor by 2045.
There are several potential intermediate stops along the route. Existing historic stations that have been renovated and could be returned to service include Conover, Marion, Morganton, Old Fort, and Statesville, while station sites have been previously identified in Asheville, Black Mountain, and Valdese. Hickory has also expressed interest in a station. In Asheville, the City and NCDOT previously purchased a site near Biltmore Village for a station, but the report notes that the French Broad River MPO requested to evaluate other locations closer to the River Arts District, which would add expense to the project and time to the trip. A 10-acre maintenance and operations yard would also need to be located near Asheville or Salisbury assuming the corridor runs Siemens Venture trainsets similar to the new Amtrak trains (@apbassett this may answer your question).
The estimated cost for all of this is $665m. Next steps include MPOs and RPOs potentially submitting this for STI prioritization, and if it scores well it could be included on the STIP.
Honestly, this is both less expensive and has a shorter projected travel time than I thought it would. Looks like a Raleigh → Salisbury → Asheville train could do ~6hrs without transfers. Would be well worth it to me.
$665M is a slam dunk if they can get some federal funding from the FRA program they applied to. Kind of puts it into perspective how crazy expensive the Triangle regional rail is (over 4x the price for hourly trains that go 40 miles on an active corridor!)
Let’s get it done!
Meh… I’d still rather drive to Asheville in ~4hrs
You can’t drink and post on the DTR if you are driving.
Hold my beer…
I just drove to Dollywood with my 2 year old and wife, and we had to stop at Hickory, then Statesville (on the way back) and spend the night because it was a lot with the kid. I would 100% go for all of us taking the train to Asheville instead of driving. This route would also have a scenic bonus to it that most rides would not match, so I can see the experience making up for the slowness. Faster is always better though!
+1. There are times when I’d drive and times when I’d train, but the 6 hour timetable (could we get it down more if there were no stops between Salisbury & AVL?) is pretty enticing if I’m traveling with the kiddos. It’s already our favorite way to travel to DC if we’re in the city proper.
I would do a 6 hr train trip. I think the only thing I use a car for in Asheville is driving out to Sierra Nevada’s awesome location. I loathe the drive there (and back!) so a train would be far more relaxing.