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DOT to study Raleigh-Wilmington rail service


Raleigh, N.C. — The state Department of Transportation’s Rail Division has applied for federal funds to study the possibility of launching passenger rail service between Raleigh and Wilmington, officials said Wednesday - reports

The $6.7 million in funds from the Federal Rail Administration would be matched by $1.7 million from the state. The money would be used for environmental studies and engineering and design work, as well as studies to assess ridership, revenues and construction and operating costs.

The Raleigh-to-Wilmington passenger train would run through Fayetteville and Goldsboro, officials said. The state also is looking at beginning rail service between Asheville and Salisbury and will use the federal money to study that option as well.

“It is exciting to think about the possibility of providing passenger rail service to western and southeastern North Carolinians,” state Transportation Secretary Gene Conti said in a statement. “Those areas have long worked to secure service and are included in the State Rail Plan for bringing quality rail transportation to the state."

The passenger service design must include sufficient rail network capacity to operate freight, intermodal and passenger trains reliably, officials said. Passenger trains operating at speeds for conventional intercity rail service travel up to 79 mph.

In January, North Carolina received $545 million in federal economic stimulus grants for further development of the nearly 500-mile Southeast High Speed Rail Corridor. The grants will be used to make improvements to the corridor that will allow trains to travel between Charlotte and Washington, D.C., at top speeds of 90 to 110 mph.

Web Editor: Matthew Burns

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I've got a stupid question

I've got a stupid question maybe someone will answer. If I get on a train to Raleigh, how do I get around when I get there? Rent a car? Same is true the other way, if a person from Raleigh comes to Wilmington are they going to take cabs to and from their destination? Driving your own car is much cheaper than that. I've lived in both Raleigh and Wilmington and I don't know a single person in either place that would use this.


People who pose this question do not understand why people like me use passenger rail. When I travel by rail, I generally have a defined purpose for why I am travelling and what I will be doing in the city of my destination. Once I'm there, yes, I might take a cab. I did so two months ago. But think long term - you might not know anyone NOW who would use the rail service, but with fixed transportation infrastructure, station-stops and terminals BECOME central points in cities around which businesses and neighborhoods develop.

Wilmington needs this

Wilmington needs this passenger rail service. I am going to North Carolina A&T state university this fall along with 7 other students from my high school. It would be nice to be able to bored a train in Greensboro and get off in Wilmington. I am not old enough to rent a car to drive home on the weekends. The Greyhound bus takes 9 hrs to get from Greensboro to Wilmington. If Wilmington gets an amtrak train I would ride it. Wilmington is growing everyday we need better transportation options. The only way to get here is by car (which alot of college students like myself dont have),Greyhound Bus (which takes for ever and is expensive) or air plane. The train station will bring alot of jobs to the Wilington area. The only question I have is where will they build the train station?

it would be great if

it would be great if wilmington would get some train service to Raleigh. For the person abover the answer is yes I would take a cab or research their bus system to be able to get around.Plus once you're in raleigh you can transfer to train or bus to get to other cities. Wilmington is so far off the beaten route.


has been deemed the most ineffective, poorly managed department in state government.

So now, they want to provide rail service through Goldsboro and Fayetteville with a final destination in Wilmington.

Those people can not even stay within a budget that is bloated. They don't even want to sell a 27 year old aircraft which needs over $1,000,000 in repairs and for which there is not a single pilot, on the state roster, who is qualified to fly it.

They have more attorneys on their role than many law firms.

Bad Idea; and beside where will the funds come from to make the repairs which will be required to make the tracks safe? They're using stimulus money now for the Raleigh to Charlotte corridor. Those funds disappear at year end.

So where would the money come from?

Business Commuting Advantage

I agree with the comment that the line should be a direct line between Wilmington and Raleigh, with small feeder lines from Fayetteville and Goldsboro. A direct route between Wilmington and Raleigh could open up some excellent business and employment opportunities to our otherwise job-depressed area...allowing commuters to earn the generally higher paying salaries of the Triangle area, and still live and play in Wilmington. I doubt it would be drastic, but it could provide Wilmington with a small economic boost in spending power, while also opening up more possibilities for local tourism from surrounding areas.

Yes, you can drive to Raleigh for $20 or so...but for anyone who has to make that trip frequently, it is a long, boring, and otherwise dull trip to make. At least with rail service, you could catch up on work, or otherwise accomplish tasks during the time you would otherwise be driving. For frequent travelers, you'd likely save money on wear/tear on your vehicle, tires, gas, etc. in the long run that would make light rail an attractive option.

One big hole in your plan

Unless everyone in Wilmington is planning on working in Raleigh, the main question still remains: Who pays for the rail line?

Take a cursory look at the taxes people who live in the New York MTA area pay and you'll start to see what's in your future if this comes. The MTA is huge, with a couple of hundred thousand riders every day and THEY can't support themselves. But the taxes are some of the highest local taxes in the nation.

BTW, the people in Fayetteville and Goldsboro have just as much right to live in their town and work in Raleigh as you do....maybe moreso for Goldsboro, as they already have a sizeable population driving to and from Raleigh every day. This is such a very bad, very expensive idea however, that few of them will opt for that "benefit."


And who pays for highways, ports, and air terminals? They're all government subsidized.

Yay! Another money pit!

Passenger rail disappeared for a reason, and we can't ignore the fact that the same reasons still exist. People will ride this thing once or twice as a novelty, but after a few trips they will get right back in their cars and head for I-40 if they need to go to Raleigh. You can drive to Raleigh for less than twenty dollars, set the temperature where you want it, listen to the music you want to hear, and stop at Warsaw for an Egg McMuffin if you choose to. Plus, YOU decide when you'll come and go. You set your own schedule.

Amtrak has been a bottomless well of red-ink since day one, and this will be no different; if you set the fares high enough to be self-supporting, people won't ever ride it.

Why don't we try to cut spending and get out of the fiscal nightmare we're in now, rather than look for ways to go even deeper in debt?

Re: Yay! Another money pit!

Cut spending? I am all for that. Let's pull all operations out of both Iraq and Afghanistan since we don't seem to be winning either conflict and they're still dragging on.

Would love passenger rail but

It should be a direct connection between the Triangle and Wilmington. If the route zig zags to include Fayetteville and Goldsboro on one rail line, it won't get as many riders because it won't be a time saver. But if there were smaller feeder lines that brought passengers to a Central line then I think it would be used. And while I would use it to take my family to Raleigh for the State Fair, museum days downtown etc, I think the DOT should consider that their passenger base that will be weekend vacation travelers and have provisions for pets in a climate controlled baggage car.