Posts Tagged ‘Amtrak in North Carolina’

First Phase Completed of New Charlotte Station

December 9, 2022

The North Carolina Department of Transportation recently finished the first phase of construction of its new Gateway Station in Charlotte, North Carolina.

Amtrak sent a test train to the facility on Nov. 30 to test clearances of the boarding platforms.

An NCDOT spokesperson said the first phase of the project cost $86.38 million, which included $30 million from the federal government, $47,350,000 from the state, and $9,034,986 from the city of Charlotte.

The facility once complete will link Amtrak passengers with direct access to uptown Charlotte via  the CityLYNX Gold Line, bus routes, and other local transit.

The Gateway station is located near West Fourth Street and West Trade Street near the Greyhound Bus Station.

Amtrak now uses a station on North Tryon Street that is served by a single CATS bus route and has limited accessibility for pedestrians.

The $52 million second phase of the development of Gateway Station will be undertaken by the City of Charlotte.

Although no date has been given for completion of the second phase, a city spokesperson said officials want to see it completed “in the next few years.”

The second phase includes constructio0n of a multi-story, and multi-use building that will feature railroad operations in addition to space for retail, residential, commercial and dining accommodations.

NC Amtrak Trains Set Ridership Record in October

November 17, 2022

North Carolina reported this week that it set a ridership record in October for its state-funded Amtrak trains.

The Carolinian and Piedmont trains last month handled 55,393 passengers, which topped by 14 percent the record set this year in September of 48,488 passengers.

The trains are funded by the North Carolina Department of Transportation and serve a dozen station.

During October additional temporary stops were added for some trains for a barbecue festival in Lexington and the North Carolina State Fair in Raleigh.

The Carolinian operates once daily in each direction between New York and Charlotte. The Piedmont Service operates three daily roundtrips between Charlotte and Raleigh.

The NCDOT said in a news release that patronage of the state-funded Amtrak trains has rebounded since the COVID-19 pandemic.

The trains have averaged nearly 47,500 passengers a month since April, which the agency said is about 8,850 more than the monthly average in 2019.

North Carolina Trains Set Ridership Record

October 18, 2022

The North Carolina Department of Transportation recently reported that ridership of the state’s Amtrak trains set a record last month.

The Carolinian and Piedmont trains transported 48,488 passengers in September, an increase of 32 percent over the average pre-pandemic monthly ridership levels from 2014 to 2019.

North Carolina funds multiple trains daily between Raleigh and Charlotte with stops in Cary, Durham, Burlington, Greensboro, High Point, Salisbury and Kannapolis.

The Carolinian, which began operating in 1990, operates between Charlotte and New York.

The states intercity rail program is known as NC by Train and it began a fourth daily round trip between Raleigh and Charlotte in 2018.

NCDOT wants to expand the passenger-rail service along the S-Line between Raleigh and Richmond, Virginia, the agency said in a new release.

Additional Interim Stops Set in North Carolina

October 15, 2022

Extra station stops are being added this month in North Carolina to accommodate those traveling to the North Carolina State Fair and the Lexington BBQ Festival.

Between Oct. 14 and 23 select Carolinian and Piedmont Service trains will stop at the fairgrounds in Raleigh.

In a service advisory Amtrak said Trains 77 and 80 will operate as follows. Train 80 will arrive at the fairgrounds at 9:53 a.m. and only discharge passengers.

Train 77 will depart the fairgrounds at 3:09 p.m. and only receive passengers.

For the BBQ festival, Trains 73, 74, 75, 76, 77, 78, 79 and 80 will be making an additional stop in Lexington on Oct. 22.

Funds Released for Amtrak Stop Development

September 30, 2022

Funding for a passenger station project in Lexington, North Carolina, has been released and work on the project is expected to get underway.

The $24.9 million grant from the federal BUILD grant program was announced in 2020, but red tape held up release of the funds.

Creating an Amtrak stop in Lexington has been under discussion for 20 years.

The project will involved constructing two boarding platforms, renovation of the historic freight depot as an interim passenger station, a vehicle tunnel under the tracks at Fifth Avenue, track improvements, and closing the at-grade rail crossing at Seventh Avenue.

The project is expected to cost $57 million. Additional funding is being contributed by the North Carolina Department of Transportation and the City of Lexington.

New reports indicated construction is not expected to begin for another two years because the project involves right-of-way purchases, structure demolition, final design and plan review.

City officials said “there is an opportunity to begin renovation of the station site prior to construction of the track and grade separation work as funding becomes available prior to 2025.” 

Lexington is located between High Point and Salisbury and would be served by Amtrak’s Piedmont Service.

NCDOT Funding Greenville Service Study

July 11, 2022

The North Carolina Department of Transportation will provide a $250,000 grant to help pay for a study of intercity rail passenger service to Greenville, North Carolina.

Greenville and Pitt County officials earlier agreed to undertake the study, which is expected to “deliver a comprehensive assessment of the steps needed for passenger rail.”

Greenville has a population of more than 90,000 and is home to East Carolina University.

The proposed service would operate to Raleigh, which is served by Amtrak’s Carolinian (New York-Charlotte), Piedmonts (Raleigh-Charlotte) and Silver Star (New York-Miami).

NCDOT to Update Wilmington Passenger Study

June 9, 2022

The North Carolina Department of Transportation said it will update this year a feasibility study for passenger rail service in Wilmington, North Carolina.

The study, known as the Southeastern North Carolina Passenger Rail Study, focuses the potential for rail passenger service between Wilmington and Raleigh.

Two routes are being considered for the service, include the CSX AC-Line via Goldsboro, and a route via Fayetteville and the CSX A-Line.

The updated report will review cost estimates, ridership forecasts and other considerations for future planning.

The updated study is expected to be completed by late this year.

Amtrak currently serves Raleigh and Fayetteville but there is no rail passenger service to Wilmington.

Changes Made to NC Connector Service

May 21, 2021

The Piedmont Authority for Regional Transportation has modified some NC Connector service between High Point and Winston-Salem, North Carolina.

PART will incorporate Route 1 and Route 3 to allow connections between High Point and Winston-Salem.

In a service advisory, Amtrak said passengers will need to transfer at PARTs Coble Transportation Center in Greensboro from one route to another, depending on direction of travel.

Passengers boarding at the Winston-Salem Clark Campbell Transportation Center or Winston-Salem State University will board PART Route 1 schedule service to the Coble Transportation Center.

Upon boarding, the driver will verify travel document and issue a PART Paper Token. The Winston Salem State University stop has been relocated just north of the current stop to Union Station.

When arriving at Coble Transportation Center, passengers will use the PART Paper Token to transfer onto PART Route 3 schedule service that will proceed to the High Point Train station.

Westbound passengers coming from Piedmont and Carolinian trains will need to collect a PART Paper Token from a station agent before proceeding on PART Route 3 schedule service to Coble Transportation Center.

When arriving at Coble Transportation Center, passengers will use the PART Paper Token to transfer onto Route 1 schedule service that will proceed to the Winston-Salem Clark Campbell Transportation Center and then Winston-Salem State University.

Route 1 connections at the Winston-Salem Clark Cable Station are at the L-1 slip located on the side of WS Depot facility on North Liberty Street.

At Winston-Salem University,  Route 1 connections are located at the PART Bus Stop sign in front of the Union Station building. Passengers have three routes to connect to campus.

At the High Point Terminal,  Route 3 connections are at the High Point Terminal Outer Slip.

Restoration of State-Funded Corridor Services Presents a Mixed Picture

March 27, 2021

Passengers board Amtrak’s Chicago-bound Saluki at Effingham, Illinois, on March 21. The Chicago-Carbondale corridor lost one roundtrip since the COVID-19 pandemic began a year ago

Although Amtrak plans to restore daily service to most long-distance routes starting in late May, the restoration of corridor service cut during the COVID-19 pandemic presents a more mixed picture.

Some states might restore service by summer but that is not guaranteed.

Michigan Department of Transportation Rail Director Peter Anastor said he didn’t known when two suspended Wolverine Service roundtrips between Chicago and Detroit (Pontiac) would return.

He indicated it will hinge in part on ridership and revenue trends.

“The CARES Act and the second stimulus bill helped fill the gap caused by fixed costs that stay the same whether you have 10 or 100 riders,” he said.

Michigan also funds the Chicago-Port Huron Blue Water and the Chicago-Grand Rapids Pere Marquette.

Although the Blue Water continued to operate throughout the pandemic, the Pere Marquette was suspended between March and last summer.

Anastor indicated new Venture coaches are expected to be assigned to Wolverine Service this spring, making it the first Midwest corridor train to have the new cars.

On other Midwest corridor routes, Hiawatha Service between Chicago and Milwaukee is expected to increase to seven round trips on May 21.

Wisconsin Department of Transportation Rail Division head Arun Rao said the service expansion will be promoted with an extensive advertising push and increased social media activity.

Illinois Department of Transportation spokesman Scott Speegle said his agency will decide in April when some other corridor services will be restored.

IDOT has suspended one round trip on the Chicago-Carbondale route, one roundtrip on the Chicago-Quincy route and two roundtrips between Chicago and St. Louis.

“We anticipate resuming full service no earlier that mid-July; the final decision on that time frame will be made in April, approximately 12 weeks prior to resumption of service,” he said.

Speegle said IDOT will review ridership and revenue numbers for the current service, anticipated costs, and the level of federal support.

Whether a second St. Louis-Kansas City Missouri River Runner will resume operating will depend on how much funding the Missouri legislature approves.

The Missouri Department of Transportation has requested funding for two daily roundtrips but the chair of a House budget committee has proposed funding just one roundtrip.

In the East, New York State has not announced its intentions in regards to restoring any suspended Empire Corridor trains.

Two routes funded by New York, the Maple Leaf to Toronto and Adirondack to Montreal have been suspended due to the U.S.-Canadian border being closed during the pandemic.

Elsewhere in the East, North Carolina will begin a fourth roundtrip starting April 5 in the Charlotte-Raleigh corridor.

Amtrak and the North Carolina Department of Transportation are reinstating a third Piedmont Service roundtrip, making this the first multi-frequency state corridor to be fully restored.

North Carolina reinstated a second and third round trip last August and December, respectively.

Another Downeaster trip to Maine is expected to resume in May after schedules are worked out with Amtrak and host railroad Pan Am Railways.

Northern New England Passenger Rail Authority Executive Director Patricia Quinn said the new schedule will be a little different.

“Instead of just plugging two midday trains back into their old slots, we’re adding a 10:30 a.m. departure from Brunswick, which will turn as a 3 p.m. departure from Boston,” she said.

“Given the change in commute patterns, we decided to try something different, assuming we won’t need two trains leaving Boston for the evening rush hour, but the additional round-trip means we will again have a flex schedule for the late-night train from Boston to accommodate sports fans and concert goers.”

Quinn said weekday and weekend schedules will now be identical.

In the West, one Capitol Corridor roundtrip will on March 29 be extended from Oakland to San Jose.

Capitol Corridor managing director Rob Pagette said there will be a change in departure times based on the way customers now use the trains.

“We’re about at 15 percent of where we were in February 2020 but we are looking to have a more robust service by September,” he said.

“We’ve seen more demand spread throughout the day, and this has allowed us to improve the efficiency of how we use our equipment by (temporarily) going from seven to six consists.”

Pagette said officials will be watching to determine where people are riding after the schedule change to determine where we add back the seventh consist.” An eighth trainset will be added later.

The extended round trip to San Jose will originate in Auburn because there appear to be increasing numbers of “super commuters” who ride 80 miles or more to their jobs.

Ridership trends during the pandemic have shown that if passengers are less likely to travel every day, more will opt for less-costly housing further away from the Silicon Valley.

In the San Joaquin corridor, a fifth roundtrip is expected to be added in in the fall. However, the two round trips to Sacramento aren’t likely to return until early 2021 at the earliest.

Those plans, though, are contingent on ridership stabilizing.

In Southern California, the LOSSAN Rail Corridor Agency expects to restore one Pacific Surfliner roundtrip between San Diego and Goleta in July or August.

The date of that service restoration is dependant on available funding.

In the Pacific Northwest, the Washington Department of Transportation is eyeing returning two Seattle-Portland roundtrips in mid May.

Currently, the Cascades Service is operating with one Seattle-Eugene, Oregon, round trip.

Officials are considering increasing Portland-Eugene service to two roundtrips.

3rd Piedmont Service RT To be Reinstated

March 27, 2021

Amtrak in cooperation with the North Carolina Department of Transportation will restore the third daily Piedmont Service roundtrip on April 5 in the Charlotte-Raleigh corridor.

In a news release, Amtrak said this will restore Piedmont Service to its pre-pandemic level.

The state also funds a fourth pair of trains in the corridor, the Charlotte-New York Carolinian.

Intermediate stops include Cary, Durham, Burlington, Greensboro, High Point, Salisbury and Kannapolis.