Light Rail: What works for Raleigh


Our transit solutions? No more than 500 scooters per company and parking minimums. Next.


You might be able to find some of that info in the Capital Area Metropolitan Planning Organization’s (CAMPO) 2045 Transportation Plan -

Page 36 has a map of the projected population growth by 2045, page 39 shows projected roadway congestion in 2045. Probably some other maps that I missed glossing over it quickly.


If Raleigh ever wants light rail then I believe the Durham-Orange Light Rail would have to happen first…


I still think Raleigh needs to focus like a laser beam on the commuter rail that we voted to fund in 2016 from Garner to Durham. If they would start announcing stops, dense development would surely start happening even ahead of the rail line.


The commuter rail line as proposed a couple years ago was pretty weak in that regard. Stations were too far apart with not enough opportunities for TOD in the Raleigh-Cary-RTP corridor. Just Union Station, NCSU (A great spot for a station but adjacent TOD not really feasible), a big park and ride near Corporate Center Drive, downtown Cary (which would be a famtastic spot for TOD, perhaps the best in the triangle, if they would get out of their own way), another big park and ride at McCrimmon, and then South RTP/Triangle Metro Center.

Adding back in a station at the Fairgrounds would be a good start. It is the halfway point between NCSU and West Raleigh, and there is a huge amount of underutilized land there that would be awesome for it. IMO a commuter rail line without a stop at the fairgrounds would be a huge missed opportunity.

Probably one more station on the Cary/Morrisville border could be justified. Maybe somewhere in the Park West vicinity near Cary Parkway.

Gorman, Jones Franklin, and Chatham Square (East Chatham Street) would all be great spots for stations on a light rail line but might not make sense for a 37 mile commuter rail system.


Yes. Yes. Yes. We should focus on heavy commuter rail on existing infrastructure, not new light rail infrastructure for outside Raleigh’s core. We will get a lot more bang for our buck and we’ll get it more quickly. We should purposefully identify station locations along the full route that will become high density, mixed use neighborhoods to accommodate future growth within Wake and the Triangle.


I feel like we really should be connecting Raleigh to Durham with some sort of heavy rail. If there were a couple of stops in RTP along the way, I feel like you’d see a lot of weekday ridership just based on that fact alone. Providing connections to Raleigh, Cary, RTP and Durham would be a big win for a rail line.


I’d ride it. I don’t understand why we vote for tax increases and approval for these projects and then nothing happens. I also don’t understand why it takes 20 years to build 15 miles of train tracks. This isn’t 1840…


Yes. I think that we are saying the same thing.
In effect, I am not looking for rail (an urban solution) to solve our existing suburban problems, rather I’m looking for commuter rail to prevent/lessen further suburban problems by providing an opportunity to grow TODs in nodes around stations that will effectively leverage such a system.


Maybe this could be easier if GoTriangle thinks outside of the box about their revenue/business model? Apparently, Japan’s national rail systems (and private ones too) are profitable because they also use their rights-of-way for real estate.


Thanks for sharing these links.
I’ve seen the first link (I’m a regular reader of CityLab), but it’s the last link that’s the most interesting of the three to me, and it provides a roadmap for what we should be doing, whether public&private or private alone. My biggest worry though, is that all of available land will become developed in a non-TOD manner along the existing rail corridor between Raleigh and Durham before we have the chance to get in front of it.
BTW, does anyone know what the railroads’ rights of way are in North Carolina?


NCRR owns a massive 200’ wide corridor from Charlotte to Morehead City. There are encroachment agreements with private entities and many places where roads are built inside the right of way but the idea is they own the full 200’.


Interesting. It’s not hard to imagine a 200ft wide complex (by however long) within which stations are located, and immediate access to mixed uses is available. For reference, 200 feet is about the width of the Dillon Building. One can envision a linear development in these corridors with the buildings hovering over a station. I’m not certain how our outdated trains operate in such a set-up, but it’s an interesting thing to consider.


That’s quite a corridor! Charlotte to Raleigh along I-85, and then follows the future I-42.
Maps and Info


I was also going to mention the rail system of Japan and the retail/hotel nodes surrounding the stations that serve them. I’ve been to Japan numerous times and have always been impressed with the business ecosystem that exists at their train stations. I’ve seen more active, successful small businesses located in tiny malls at a train station 30 minutes out of Tokyo than I’ve seen in all of downtown Raleigh.

A lot of that is owed to population density, for sure. But it’s also due to the nature of transit in Japan in general, as they’re much more public-transit oriented than just about anywhere else I’ve been in the world.


Does NCRR actually own the entire corridor or is the corridor merely the specified 200 feet? I would have guessed Norfolfk Southern and CSX owned a large portion of the actual ROW in the corridor.


Just learned a few minutes ago that Raleigh has closed (and temporarily relocated to another site) it’s Fire Station #22 at 9350 Durant Rd. The NC Dept of Transportation purchased that property for purposes having to do with light rail. I imagine that it would be a location for a station. So I find it very interesting that stuff like this is happening although I am not aware of any official light rail for Raleigh at this point in time.


Not light rail related, but part of the HSR plan


NCRR owns all the land. Norfolk Southern (and CSX for the short segment between Raleigh and Cary) are lessees. I am not sure whether it is basically a ground lease where NCRR owns the land and the tenants build and maintain the tracks, or whether NCRR owns the entire physical plant and NS/CSX lease that to run trains on.

I am not that big of a fan of building on top of railroads, particularly RRs like the NCRR that obviously have a lot of potential for adding additional tracks. NCRR is suggesting that they want to leave room for at least four tracks within their corridor, but at this point it’s anybody’s guess as to what configuration that might be, so it’s not likely. Given the 6 million people already living across the Triangle/Triad/Charlotte areas, and that growth continues apace, I can see their argument. For that reason, I suspect they would be unlikely to allow anything permanent not directly railroad-related (ie: tracks, platforms, bridges, stations, etc) to be built within their corridor.

As I mentioned before, the railroad has recently stepped up efforts to protect the integrity of their corridor by asserting their clear ownership of this land.

There are many places where roads have been built in this corridor parallel to the railroad (like Beryl Road for example) and whenever these roads are rebuilt/widened, they are stipulating that it must happen outside of their 200’ right-of-way.

There are also many other “temporary” private uses (like parking lots, driveways, backyard fences, sheds, etc) that have been built in the corridor over the years, and in the past decade or so, especially in cases where the occupant can’t produce a valid lease, agreement, or deed, NCRR’s legal team has been working to formalize things with encroachment agreements, in some cases charging rent. (By my understanding, adverse possession laws do not apply to railroad property.)

My understanding is that the end goal of all this is to preserve the entirety of the corridor for railroad transportation use, so I think it unlikely that they will allow their corridor to be used to build TODs.


I don’t really see any of the big cities along the corridor having the density to develop specifically within the ROW. Alongside, yes.