Rail Line to Fuquay-Varina

Does anyone know how much the rail running from Union Station to Fuquay-Varina get’s used? The one that runs through Carolina Pines. Is it active? Could be a pretty amazing Greenway running through Boylan Heights, Dorthea Dix, through Carolina Pines, Through Renaissance Park, to Fuquay…


Not sure but it looks like it’s all Norfolk-Southern and not publicly-owned North Carolina RR. Might be QUITE awhile before it’s actually used for anything else. :neutral_face:


Greenway next to an active regional (commuter) rail line!

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I think its Norfolk Southern. Its not a huge corridor for them, but its regionally significant and not likely to be given up by the railroad.


With private freight owning the track, I have doubts it would ever be viable as a commuter line as freight will take priority over passenger trains and service would be unreliable.

Commuter trains are possible on other track in Raleigh that is owned by the NCRR, a weird public/private organization that owns track from Wilmington to Charlotte.

I think it would be possible to bypass the segment between downtown and I-40. It would both dramatically improve railroad operations at Union Station and through downtown, and also make a great public amenity in terms of both a rail-trail and also possibly a busway to connect the planned Western Blvd BRT to Union Station.

The way to do this is by connecting it to the NCRR somewhere south of downtown. The NCRR and this line are only about a mile apart for the first 2.5 miles south out of downtown.

My favorite possibility for this would involve following I-40. See map here. Few property impacts. Another possibility would be to go between Renaissance Park and Peach Street, north of Woodlawn Cemetary, and connect up to the NCRR just south of Rush Street.


Your map says that the part through Dix is going to be abandoned? Where did you find that news? Is the whole thing to Fuquay going to be abandoned?

that’s a nice vision! It would solve the issue of the pedestrian connection from downtown to Dix.

Is that just a visual of your idea, or is this being considered by NS? Taking the track through that freeway interchange would be super expensive, and I’m not sure there’s enough traffic on that route to justify such an expense.

I was actually just looking into this issue myself! It’s owned by Norfolk Southern, and even though they don’t move all that much freight along this rail line, they apparently are very adamant that they’re not going to give it up, and in fact just invested a fair amount of money into the line.

That’s a real shame, IMO. While there’s not nearly enough demand right now (or well into the foreseeable future) to justify building passenger transit from Raleigh to Fuquay, this line would make an amazing greenway. The greenway could start at the planned Devereaux Meadows Park, follow the West Street Bike corridor to this rail line, pass through Dix Park, and run all the way to Fuquay. Converting it from rails to trails would also get those active train lines out Carolina Pines, which is a residential neighborhood.

Until or unless Norfolk Southern changes its mind, though, that’s almost certainly a pipe dream, sadly.

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It’s just an idea that I came up with. It has absolutely zero official weight behind it at all. I also drew it up in Autocad one time too to figure out the grades (less than 1%) and curves (4 degree max) but I can’t find it at the moment. I did forward it to some of the people planning Dix Park and they said “Oh, how very interesting!” but it has absolutely zero official weight behind it.

As an aside, I think the exact same thing can and should happen north of downtown as well. Whenever they build the planned High Speed Rail route, they should relocate all trains south of Edgeton (where the tracks cross each other near Capital/Atlantic/Wake Forest) onto a four-track line that roughly follows the planned High Speed Rail route, crossing over from the east side of Capital to the West as it approaches downtown from the north. Map.


I really like the option north of town! Those track strangle urban potential, biking and walking access. That would be huge.

I’d much rather see my taxes go up for a project like that than for the ever-recurring road widening bonds we pay for.

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Evan - thanks for posting this link and draft master plan.

I’m posting here to continue to plug the idea of converting the freight railroad that cuts through the middle of the park into a greenway trail. A greenway leading into and through the park could connect to the existing Rocky Branch trail and the Walnut Creek trail.

I would like to see the greenway extend to at least Union station to the north, possibly further, and all the way to FV to the south.

Existing railroad bridges over Western Blvd and I-40/440 could be converted to bike/pedestrian use and provide no-car-needed access to the park for a lot of people.

When/if the Central Prison/Morehead school property is redeveloped the greenway would provide easy access to/from those locations as well.

As Dix park and the areas around it continue to develop and grow I think a greenway trail through the park will provide much greater value to the city and its citizens than would keeping a freight line running through the center what is supposed to be a “America’s next great public park.”


Sadly, that particular rail line is still being used & getting anything help from a railroad is next to impossible, even if the line is seldom used. The use of this line for a greenway or even transport to Dix and the Farmers Market would be THE best solution for connecting DTR, But unless some RR family member is amenable, this is a no go.

I keep hearing about things like this. Why are railroads given such special treatment?

Because they own the right-of-way.

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Right - RRs own the right of ways.

I’m not expecting them to simply turn over their property for the greater good, but I’d like to build momentum/buy-in around the idea of converting those tracks to a greenway so that eventually some type of purchase/land-swap/other offer could be put forward. It has to make sense for everyone involved.

It’s a long road but you have to start somewhere.

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Turning that railroad into a greenway is something that @Brian and I have both talked about. I actually discussed this with a friend of mine who has a lot of relevant knowledge, and she’s going to create a map of what the proposed greenway would look like, and then I’m going to write an article describing the vision and post it on a local blog (and here, of course). I’m really excited about that project and sharing it with you all here in this online community.

The more buy-in we can get from different constituencies, and the more compelling of a vision we can present to elected officials, the more likely it is that an agreement can be reached that would be mutually acceptable to local governments and to the private landowner. It is definitely a heavy, heavy lift politically. It will definitely be a project that takes at least a decade to come to fruition, and almost certainly longer. But with enough political will, it is doable, and I believe it is very much worth doing.


Wouldn’t turning railroads into greenways actually decrease the odds of running a light rail or commuter trains in the future? I love greenways and I think some cities like Raleigh and Cary do a terrific job in creating greenways. But I also think that eliminating future corridors for light rail or commuter trains is not a very good idea.


Build a tunnel around the rail tracks and cover the top with soil and grass. The trains will go under and people will play on top.


@TedF One of the main angles of the article I’m working on will discuss why that line is not an especially promising corridor for light rail. But the short answer is: 1. It would cost a lot of money to build light rail all the way from DTR to Fuquay. That’s a lot of track. 2. There’s not a high amount of demand for that specific route. 3. The railroad runs through an area that is very, very low density and is likely to remain low density in the foreseeable future. 4. The railroad runs through a lot of environmentally sensitive wetlands, along streams, and past a lot of very low-density single family housing developments. Other than Wake Tech, there’s really no place between Fuquay and Tryon Road where you could even conceive of a stop being useful in the foreseeable future.

It’s just not at all a very promising corridor for light rail, nor is it likely to ever become one. But the steams and green space do make it very appealing as a greenway.


You keep saying the “foreseeable future” but I think that you are not looking very far into the future. I suspect that Fuquay Varina will eventually become Wake County’s 4th largest city in the foreseeable future. And removing that railroad corridor would more than likely permanently eliminate any possibility for a commuter train or light rail. With the addition of NC 540 through that area the density will increase especially around the Fayetteville Rd / Ten Ten Rd area. I would like the idea of building a greenway alongside the railroad much more liking than making a decision that will forever eliminate options for mass transit.