Monday, February 08, 2010

From Raleigh to Charlotte in an hour

I had what I called the "absolute" pleasure two Octobers ago to take the Amtrak from Raleigh to Charlotte for a meeting. It was a trip that "did nothing but reinforce my belief that trains should be highly invested in as a critical mass transit option --whether for intra- or intercity travel." The trip took roughly the same amount of time as it would have if I had driven, except I was able to read a book, sleep or just enjoy the scenery.

Well, thanks to federal funding, that Raleigh-to-Charlotte trip could take about an hour. Nice.

"Uncle Sam is betting $520 million you’ll think twice about driving to Charlotte or Raleigh if a train can get you there in an hour," says the News & Record.

"That’s how much stimulus money the federal government gave North Carolina recently for the Raleigh-to-Charlotte run, with Triad stops in Greensboro, Burlington and High Point.

The award covers enough work to make high-speed rail a reality in the Central Piedmont in four or five years, said Gene Conti, state secretary of transportation.

“On the Raleigh-to-Charlotte connection, we’re going to be in good shape to get our average speed up to 90 mph, where we’re averaging just over 50 mph now,” Conti said. “Going from that to 90 mph is huge.”

The aim of high-speed rail at the regional level is curbing highway congestion and pollution, primarily by getting commuters off the roads.

“High-speed rail will provide business and leisure travelers with a competitive option to car or air travel for distances of 100 to 500 miles,” said Joan Bagherpour of North Carolina’s rail program. ...

The route belongs to the national Southeast High Speed Rail corridor, which eventually could extend from Washington through Atlanta. The larger route won a total of $620 million in stimulus money for work in both Virginia and the Tar Heel State.

North Carolina’s piece of the larger award was $545 million, but $25 million is earmarked for the route from Raleigh to Richmond. That route is not as close to completion as Charlotte-to-Raleigh.

“For the Raleigh-to-Charlotte (leg), we got pretty much everything we asked for,” Conti said of the $520 million.

So, before long, you can sit back and enjoy the ride. But don't get too comfortable -- you'll be at your destination before you know it.


Kevin Brewer said...

90 mph -- or about what I drive on the highway anyway.

M. Lail said...

Then the train is probably not for you, homes.

Anonymous said...

This is great news! Wish it would get here today.