New passenger train routes offered by Amtrak in North Carolina

If approved, stops in Asheville and Wilmington would be added to the service that already includes Charlotte, Greensboro and Raleigh.

CHARLOTTE, NC – Amtrak has released its Vision 2035 plan that features new, expanded passenger train service in the Carolinas and across the United States.

If this proposed plan were to become a reality, it would introduce Amtrak rail service across North Carolina, from the mountains to the coast. A new line – proposed to bring service as far west as Asheville and as far east as Wilmington – would connect the already existing rail service to Charlotte, Salisbury, Greensboro and Raleigh.

The existing corridor, which parallels Interstate 85 through the state’s largest cities, is also proposed to receive new and improved service.

“Amtrak met with stakeholders across the United States — state officials, mayors, businesses and others — to identify their local needs and expectations,” Amtrak says in its recently released plan. “Our vision incorporates this contribution and we will work in partnership with stakeholders to develop and improve passenger rail travel.”

The proposed plan would also create new service between Charlotte and Atlanta.

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“Big cities like Houston, Atlanta and Cincinnati have simply inadequate service, with trains only stopping once a day and often in the middle of the night,” Amtrak said.

North Carolina is currently served by rail service operated by Amtrak and the North Carolina Department of Transportation. Some of these trains run in-state while others continue out-of-state through the rest of Amtrak’s nationwide network, including destinations like Washington, DC and New York.

“Our vision builds on Amtrak’s nationwide long-distance rail network, integrating new and improved corridors into our existing system,” Amtrak said.

To succeed, Amtrak said it needed increased federal funding, expanded access to existing infrastructure (including tracks owned by freight companies), and a new app to ensure passenger trains receive priority over freight traffic.

Earlier this week, President Joe Biden released his $2.3 trillion plan to transform America’s infrastructure.

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Cities like Charlotte are also coming up with their own long-range plans.

The city’s current plan calls, which would add new rail, bus, bicycle and greenway opportunities, would require an investment of $4 billion to $6 billion from the federal government.

“We want to partner with communities like Charlotte,” Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg said in a recent interview with WCNC Charlotte’s Ben Thompson for Sunday morning public affairs show Flashpoint.

“It’s music to my ears when you talk about a multimodal approach,” Buttigieg said. “We need to make sure residents have as many options as possible.”


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Jose P. Rogers