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Passenger Trains > Additional NCDOT frequency

Date: 05/18/23 05:04
Additional NCDOT frequency
Author: ctillnc

The long-awaited additional Piedmont trains between Raleigh and Charlotte are in the Amtrak reservations system beginning July 10. The new train numbers are 71 and 72. Departures from Raleigh will be 0630, 1000, 1300, 1515, and 1730 (Carolinian). Departures from Charlotte will be 0645 (Carolinian), 1025, 1420, 1730, and 1945. 

Date: 05/18/23 06:52
Re: Additional NCDOT frequency
Author: MEKoch

NC is leading the way with added frequency. Mostly older equipment. 79 mph. Station renovation or new. CTC. More sidings.

None of the above is “high speed”expensive but it is a solid passenger railroad.

Posted from iPhone

Date: 05/18/23 11:52
Re: Additional NCDOT frequency
Author: jp1822

They seem to be on the right path too if another frequency can be added - funding and growth in passengers riding the train! Kudos to NC!

Date: 05/18/23 12:34
Re: Additional NCDOT frequency
Author: ctillnc

Both locomotives and passenger cars will be replaced within the next 10 years.

At one point there was talk of improving Charlotte-Greensboro to 90 mph, but I haven't heard that recently. Instead the emphasis is on building new stations (Hillsborough, Lexington, Harrisburg), completing the new Charlotte station, and replacing equipment. Ultimately there will be a sixth daily frequency. 

I should add that in the new schedule, not every train will stop at every station. For example, the first train departing Raleigh at 0630 (#71) will not stop at Burlington, High Point, or Salisbury. This cuts the run time RGH-CLT for #71 and gets it under 3 hours for the first time. Drive time during the day downtown-to-downtown is typically 2 hrs 40 mins but can be significantly worse at rush hour or on holidays. All of the I-40/85 route is at least six lanes (most of it eight lanes) except for the 12 miles being widened now. NCDOT has no intention of further widening. 

Date: 05/18/23 13:10
Re: Additional NCDOT frequency
Author: Latebeans

I like North Carolina's incremental approach on this route, walk before you run.  Reasonably fast trains that operate with a decent frequency and are reliable are the basic foundation.  Operating at 79 or 90 mph, absent freight train interference,  can often provide timings competitive with the automobile.   Convenient stations and inter-modal connections help a lot also.

Date: 05/18/23 13:30
Re: Additional NCDOT frequency
Author: scraphauler

The added frequency is great new!   The state is committed to growing both passenger and freight rail infrastructure.  Check out the linked map of NC service.  

PassengerServiceMap_April 2016 Update (ncbytrain.org)


Date: 05/18/23 15:40
Re: Additional NCDOT frequency
Author: Passfanatic

The added frequency is certainly great news. NCDOT is very supportive of Amtrak passengers. As long as if the travel times of the train are close to that of the automobile, than that helps, even if the train can only do speeds from between 79 mph to 90 mph. It's been almost 10 years since I rode the Piedmont and I really loved riding in those heritage cars. I hope to do a trip in them before they are replaced.

Date: 05/20/23 12:10
Re: Additional NCDOT frequency
Author: symph1

Has there ever been talk of extending the system past Raleigh? Like, have one morning train start its run at Rocky Mount, with an evening train ending it's run there? Sort of a reverse Carolinian.

Date: 05/20/23 14:08
Re: Additional NCDOT frequency
Author: Passfanatic

There might have been talks about extending it down to Wilmington NC, I think. Having a Piedmont trip or two extend to Rocky Mount might not be a bad idea.

A heads up about the brand new Piedmont roundtrip-many people might not realize this but they should check the schedule. The pair of trains will not going to be making every single stop on the timetable-looks like they will be skipping Salisbury, High Point, and Burlington. I'm quite surprised that NCDOT chose to do that. Those are pretty important towns to be skipped. The number of stops on the Piedmont route make it an intercity route. It's not a commuter rail route.

Date: 05/21/23 06:36
Re: Additional NCDOT frequency
Author: scraphauler

symph1 Wrote:
> Has there ever been talk of extending the system
> past Raleigh? Like, have one morning train start
> its run at Rocky Mount, with an evening train
> ending it's run there? Sort of a reverse
> Carolinian.

Yes, the are various plans/studies to extend Piedmonts to Wilmington.  Route to Wilmington would continue east on state owned NCRR as far as Goldsboro, then turn south on the CSX W&W sub to Wilmington.  This route to Wilmington current dead ends in Wallace NC near the Pender County line and the line is missing all through Pender County to Castle Hayne at the New Hanover County line just outside Wilmington.  NCDOT owns this intact but trackless right of way and has been doing engineering work and preliminary regulatory/environmental type work to restore right of way to service.  

Additionally, they are talks and preliminary work to extend Piedmont Service to Asheville.  That a lot more ambitious plan which would require jumping off the current route in Salisbury and running NS thru Hickory, and the loops, and into Asheville.  With the closure of the huge paper mill in Canton NC raising questions about the survival of the Blue Ridge Southern and NS's continued operation west of Hickory, there have been rumblings that NCDOT could purchase the line between Hickory and Asheville. 

NC is also heavily involved in the Southeast Corridor.  NCDOT along with VADOT own the trackless S Line between Petersburg VA and Norlina NC.  Final environmental studies are done and they are into the engineering phase and pre construction phase to returning the old SAL from Petersburg VA to Raleigh back to service.  The Star and Carolinian would take this route, along with 2 or 3 new trains. Early meetings with local officials and prospose continuing one or two of those new train on south to Sanford or Southern Pines. 

In short, a lot going on in this state - slow, incremental, baby steps all based off the success of the Piedmont. 

Date: 05/21/23 08:06
Re: Additional NCDOT frequency
Author: Passfanatic

As for train service to Asheville, if that line from there to Salisbury is twisty and turny, then it's best off that the service is in the form of a thruway bus. We want the travel times by train to be below or around that of driving on the roads.

Yes, there is a strong proposal to reactivate the S Line north of Raleigh for passenger train use of speeds of up to 110 mph. That would be a game changer for those passengers heading from the Northeast to the main population centers in North Carolina. Eventually, NCDOT and Amtrak want to run four Carolinians and the Silver Star using that route. It sounds like one Carolinian, Palmetto, and the Meteor would continue serving Rocky Mount.

Date: 05/21/23 09:55
Re: Additional NCDOT frequency
Author: ctillnc

Politics and RR cooperation, ultimately, will decide whether Wilmington or Asheville happens first. I'm betting on Wilmington because CSX is more cooperative than NS these days. Even though rail would have to be reinstalled between Wallace and Castle Hayne, NCDOT has already determined that trestles on that segment and the swing bridge over the Northeast Cape Fear River remain usable. NCDOT also owns the ROW in Wilmington from what used to be Smith Creek Yard into downtown, although it stops two blocks short of the former ACL headquarters and station complex. Goldsboro-Wilmington is nearly straight and flat racetrack... easy to run 79 mph for mile after mile. NCDOT already runs up to 79 Raleigh-Selma, and Selma-Goldsboro is in excellent condition although it was dark before PTC. Of course, the State owns Selma-Goldsboro. 

Nearly 20 years ago, NS quoted $145 million to make Salisbury-Asheville suitable for passenger trains. The price has probably doubled or tripled since then. Reality is that it will always be slow to operate a train through the loops between Old Fort and Ridgecrest. In an ideal world NCDOT would like to run via Winston-Salem to restore service to Forsyth County (400K population), like most passenger trains did before 1970. But the additional cost of restoring Greensboro to Barber Junction via W-S would be a whopper, and it would make the train even slower because the surveyor was paid by the mile. 

The S-line project between Raleigh and Petersburg is at the whim of federal funding. 

Edited 3 time(s). Last edit at 05/21/23 09:57 by ctillnc.

Date: 05/21/23 10:26
Re: Additional NCDOT frequency
Author: dan

Wish California did this approach SF-LA

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