Tuesday, March 30, 2010

N.C. adds Charlotte-Raleigh trains

Starting June 5 two more passenger trains will run between Charlotte and Raleigh, the N.C. Department of Transportation announced today. One will leave Charlotte at 12:30 p.m., arriving in Raleigh at 3:43 p.m. The other will leave Raleigh at 11:50 a.m., arriving in Charlotte at 3:02 p.m.

That will make a total of six trains between the two cities. The Carolinian, which leaves Charlotte at 7:30 a.m., continues past Raleigh to Selma, Wilson, Rocky Mount, Richmond, Washington and New York. The Piedmont, which leaves Raleigh at 6:50 a.m., arrives in Charlotte at 10:02 a.m., then heads back to Raleigh, leaving Charlotte at 5:15 p.m., arriving 8:28 p.m.

I spoke today with Patrick Simmons, director of the N.C. DOT's Rail Division, who mentioned that, among other things, they've been interested to see that students living in Raleigh are now commuting to college in the Triad on the daily trains. (The Greensboro stop is very near N.C. A&T State.) I also asked when we'd see a passenger train from Charlotte to the beach and the answer, in a nutshell and delivered much more diplomatically, was not in my lifetime.

No, it isn't high-speed. But I figure anything that can get some traffic off of I-85 and N.C. 49 is a good thing. See bytrain.org for schedules and train information and information on buying tickets.


Karl said...

So I take it you'll be using the train anytime you want to go to Raleigh from now on, then?

Yak Rider said...

Do us all a favor next time, inquire as to the EXACT number of riders daily and report that fact in your blog.

For more fun facts, find out how much the price of a ticket costs and ask how much it actually costs to run the train per trip.

Jason said...

I used to visit Charlotte quite a bit using the Carolinian/Piedmont trains when I was living in Raleigh. These trains are about as fast as you can drive it, and are much more pleasant than I-85.

ATM said...

Greensboro's train station makes it easier for college commuters. Their multimodal station incorporates rail, greyhound, city and regional bus, and the college bus system, which is free to students.

Bob said...

I'll be a regular rider of the midday train.

The other thing NCDOT should begin to work on is hourly commuter service from downtown CLT to Salisbury once the route is double tracked. Small investment, big return.

consultant said...

I'm glad to see North Carolina is getting more train traffic up and going.

Mary, this system is not connected to Amtrak,is it?

Amtrak is run with the same level of intelligence as the folks who got us into Iraq/Afghanistan.

Local, maybe that's the way forward. Passenger rail will have to be built locally and at the state level. Which is the way rail developed from the beginning.

Our transporation needs are huge now and mass transit will only become more important as the price of gas continues to inch up.

Like the interstate hwy., the govt., national and state, should help get the right of ways and track in place, and let private industry provide city to city service.

If we could ever get the right national/state/private industry partnerships in place, we could get regular, decent passenger rail up and running within 3 to 5 years in most parts of the country.

Stephanie said...

I wish that it were possible to commute to schools in Greensboro from Charlotte but the times are not convenient nor are the trains very reliable (for being on time.) Their website even says allow a 30 minute +/_ window for departure. (I have heard from people who use the train that an hour window is more like it.)

Hopefully they will continue to keep adding train routes so that, at least in time, it would be possible for people to commute for work, school, etc. from Charlotte to the Greensboro area.

I commute to Greensboro for school daily and would LOVE to find an alternative to 180 miles per day on my car and $300/mo. in gas.

Stephanie said...

and ditto to ATMs comments...

Greensboro does one heck of a job incorporating all forms of transportation for the the area students and locals too.

WashuOtaku said...

I can see what Bob is saying and it makes sense, maybe not hourly, but at least trains during rush hour times; would be a commuter rail with already existing infrastructure.

There are rail tracks from Charlotte to Wilmington, which are own by CSX. It would be something to consider. But the state wants Salisbury to Asheville first then Raleigh to Wilmington (missing tracks) or Morehead City.

North Carolina pays Amtrak to run and provide service on the trains; however North Carolina owns the train and the tracks.

Amtrak was created in the 1970s so train companies could abandon the passenger rail service. They don't want to come back.

sflee said...

Now that I'm retired, I'll do an occasional day or overnight trip to Raleigh, so I'm glad to have an additional schedule option. This was proposed when the ridership reflected better times, and gas was over $4/gallon, but obviously couldn't be implemented at the time of peak demand. Any expansion of service runs into the scarcity of rolling stock more than anything else.

Consultant, yes, this is part of Amtrak, but in NC involves more of the kind of partnership you suggest. NC owns some of the railroad lines, and Norfolk Southern is generally better to work with than CSX in coordinating freight and passenger service, maintenance, and such. The schedule uncertainty usually involves delays waiting for freight trains to go by. The new tracks should help that situation.

Amtrak has its problems, but many of them involve politics and other factors beyond its control. Long-term undercapitalization is a chronic problem, so maybe the stimulus funds and such will make a dent in that.

Brendan said...

I've lived in Charlotte for 3 years now and I always take the train home to Raleigh. To date, it is roughly the same amount of time as driving (2.5-3 hours) but it is much more comfortable and I can get work done on the way. (++). The stimulus package is creating two-way rail the whole way which will increase speeds and decrease times. (+!)

When I first started taking the train 3 years ago I noticed that business class was about 1/2 to 3/4 full (8 dollars more than coach class which is horrid! Always "splurge" for business class if you can). But now it is PACKED on the train. There's cell service pretty much the whole way between Charlotte and Raleigh so everyone has their laptops out and their wireless internet cards.

I'm glad they are adding more trains for regional commuters. It is definitely needed!

Raleigh has been talking about adding extra morning and evening service between Chapel Hill - Durham - RTP - Raleigh - North Raleigh forever. Hopefully this is the start of it, because sitting in traffic on NC's lousy highways for hours everyday is a waste of precious, money-making time.

consultant said...

Obama wants to drill for oil off most US coasts (pigs are flying!).

Face it folks, they ain't sayin', but peak oil is here.

We need to get some form of connected, comprehensive mass transit up and running before it's too late.

Anonymous said...

I think it's great that we're expanding train service but we have to provide links of transportation from the station to points of interest such as from the Raleigh train station to the airport and from train stations to the colleges, etc. So far, don't see much of that happening so what do you do once you arrive at the train station?

sflee said...

There's a bus that comes relatively near the train station, and will make a stop there when needed. You just make a phone call on arrival (or for large groups make an advance reservation). For $1 you can go to the main transit mall downtown and use your transfer to take a connecting bus if need be. For $2 you can get a day pass for unlimited rides.

To go to the airport, you do have to change to a regional bus.

Many of the tourist destinations in Raleigh are in waling distance of the Moore St. transit mall. The state art museum is a fair trek from the bus lines, as last I checked.

I hope to take an overnight trip to Raleigh this spring just to do some sightseeing and stay at a B&B.

2whls3spds said...

It is a start...

Sutton said...

This is still an issue because we get only 7 hr work time for people traveling from Greensboro to Charlotte. This would attract more office commuters living in triad if

A) we have fast trains leaving from Triad and reaching there around 8 AM in Charlotte

B) Or trains starting early in Greensboro and reaching there around 8 or 9 AM.

In the current scheme, very rarely people use afternoon trains and this might not pay out very well.