GOV. EASLEY ANNOUNCES MORE RAIL SERVICE BETWEEN RALEIGH AND CHARLOTTE
Third Train To Be Added To Meet Growing Ridership And Consumer Demand
RALEIGH Gov. Mike Easley today announced that a third intercity passenger train between Raleigh and Charlotte will be added to the current service to help meet growing demand as well as ridership increases. The new train service will run at midday, with departures from Raleigh and Charlotte.
“Ridership is increasing significantly along this route and adding a midday train run will meet the growing demand and provide needed services to North Carolina travelers who are looking for economical alternatives to driving,” Easley said. “As fuel prices continue to climb, more and more people are turning to rail as their choice for transportation.”
From October 2007 to April 2008, ridership was up more than 22 percent with 197,126 travelers riding either the Piedmont or Carolinian trains. On the Piedmont (trains 73 and 74) ridership was up almost 26 percent from 28,309 to 35,681 passengers; the Carolinian (trains 79 and 80) was up 18 percent from 136,358 to 161,445.
The North Carolina Department of Transportation currently sponsors both the Piedmont and Carolinian trains as part of North Carolina’s Amtrak service. Each train makes a morning and evening run between Raleigh and Charlotte, a trip that is competitive with auto travel at 3 hours and 9 minutes, including intermediate stops at Cary, Durham, Burlington, Greensboro, High Point, Salisbury and Kannapolis. The Carolinian also makes stops in Selma, Wilson and Rocky Mount, in the eastern part of the state. Fares for the round trip between Raleigh and Charlotte start at $50.
The estimated cost to operate the additional route is $3 million a year. The money will come from the federal Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality program.
“Federal funds are going to cover startup and operational costs for the next three years, so it’s a win-win,” said Transportation Secretary Lyndo Tippett. “Riding the train offers a safe, efficient and environmentally-friendly way to travel.”
Officials at the state transportation department estimate that it will take between six and 12 months to make the third run operational. Rail cars and locomotives will need to be refurbished for the service.
The Piedmont and Carolinian trains are supported by the state transportation department, Amtrak and passenger fares. Complete schedule and train information is available by going to: www.bytrain.org