Dec 8, 2023 - News

Mega federal investments will revolutionize passenger rail out of Charlotte

train amtrak ncdot passenger rail s-line

Photo: Emma Way/Axios

More than $1 billion in federal grants will help expand passenger rail in North Carolina, including a new high-speed connection between Charlotte to Atlanta.

Driving the news: The White House Friday announced more than $8 billion in new funding for rail projects across the country.

Why it matters: It’s a crucial time to expand rail in North Carolina. As the population grows, highways are becoming more congested. Plus, rail ridership is at historically high levels.

North Carolina is receiving a $1.09 billion federal grant toward the S-Line, a passenger rail line from Raleigh to Virginia.

  • This is the largest grant NCDOT has ever received. It will fund a significant portion (but not all) of the work needed to rebuild tracks between Raleigh and Richmond, Axios Raleigh reported.
  • “It extends our already popular passenger rail service between Charlotte and Raleigh,” Gov. Roy Cooper said in a statement, “and provides people, especially those in underserved areas, a safe, convenient and inexpensive way to get where they’re going.”

Additionally, The federal government will also grant North Carolina $3.5 million in Corridor Identification and Development program grants, which will go toward planning and development for seven rail corridors between cities. One is a new “high-speed” rail linking Charlotte to Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson Airport.

  • There could be stops at Greenville-Spartanburg International Airport in South Carolina and Augusta, Athens and downtown Atlanta, according to Sen. Thom Tillis.

Money will also help speed up the service between Charlotte and Washington, D.C. By constructing a partially abandoned alignment between Raleigh and Petersburg, travel times could be cut by more than an hour.

Yes, but: Plenty of unknowns remain, namely how much this funding will cover, as well as the timeline of the projects.

Of note: This funding comes from the $66 billion federal bipartisan infrastructure law, as Axios Atlanta reported.

Zoom out: The other corridors allocated funding from the $3.5 million are:

  • Charlotte and Kings Mountain
  • Fayetteville and Raleigh
  • Wilmington and Raleigh
  • Winston-Salem and Raleigh
  • Salisbury and Asheville

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