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North Carolina reaches fast-train deal

Published: March 22, 2011
TEH-10046-11
Amtrak’s Piedmont stops at Durham, N.C., on July 8, 2009.
Photo by Nicholas D’Amato
RALEIGH, N.C. — The North Carolina Department of Transportation has reached a deal to deploy its high speed rail funds in the Raleigh-Charlotte, N.C., corridor, the Raleigh News & Observer has reported. The deal is a victory for the Obama administration’s nationwide high speed rail plan, and is the second such agreement inked over the past month.
 
The agreement has been reached between the state, Norfolk Southern, the North Carolina Railroad, and Amtrak, with the blessing of the Federal Railroad Administration. It clears way for the federal government to issue $461 million in grants for faster, more reliable train service between North Carolina’s two largest cities. Gene Conti, the state’s secretary of transportation, said the state will begin soliciting bids over the next two weeks.
 
The money will add 28 miles of double track between Charlotte and Greensboro, N.C., plus five miles of passing sidings between Greensboro and Raleigh. Curves will be straightened to enable faster speeds. Initially, the upgrades will cut 13 minutes from transit times, but plans call for trains to eventually reach 90 mph, which would cut another 12 to 15 minutes.
 
States and railroads have been gradually navigating the process of reaching agreements on high speed rail funds. The railroads have resisted agreements that might cut into freight train capacity, while the FRA has resisted approving agreements that it feels don’t go far enough to guarantee that passenger trains arrive on time. On Feb. 25, BNSF Railway and the Washington state Department of Transportation reached an agreement for upgrades to Seattle-Portland, Ore., services.
 
Meanwhile, other states have been rejecting federal funds outright. Anti-rail governors who won elections in Florida, Ohio, and Wisconsin have shut down work on projects in their states. The Washington and North Carolina agreements represent big victories for high speed rail supporters.
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4 stars
STEVEN CROSMER from FLORIDA said:
I agree to Mr. McIntosh's comments. I know there's been a lot of talk of restoring the line back to service. Being from florida, It will be good news for the Florida trains, too. I know North Carolina has followed California's lead for improving its rail service, albeit on a smaller scale. Both North Carolina and California will make wise use of the money that Florida governor Scott has thumbed his nose at.
4 stars
TIM GARLAND from GEORGIA said:
At one point in history the entire Southern Railway line between Washington D.C and Atlanta, GA was double tracked. The track now goes in and out of double track. The old roadbed remains in place and the bridge abutments are wide enough for two main lines. Investing in this line segment would be worthwhile compared to other lines since most of the work is already done. This is a heavy intermodal route for NS though so additional passenger services cannot interfere with freight trains on this line. It is highly possible current freight traffic could triple over the next decade as more and more truck traffic is shifting to the rails.
5 stars
JAMES C PAKALA from MISSOURI said:
See my comment under the piece on NC Republican attack on improving the rail service. There are so many reasons this improvement makes sense. To halt it is the height of absurdity. I won't repeat all the points here.
ANDREW TERHUNE from PENNSYLVANIA said:
Rather than characterize the governors of Florida, Ohio and Wisconsin as "anti-rail", why not accurately describe them as pro-taxpayer? I'm sure if the economics of the rail projects were favorable, they would have supported them. They didn't support them because the correctly saw them as money pits that their taxpayers would have to support.
THOMAS HORSTMANN JR from OREGON said:
Great to see some states have vision while others which remain will remain nameless from FL, WI and Ohio are blind to the long term needs of their states, or more importantly, the country. IDIOTS!!!!!
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