Today, Governor Roy Cooper joined North Carolina Department of Transportation Secretary Joey Hopkins and Amtrak and state transportation officials to tout record ridership on the Piedmont route since a fifth daily round trip began between Raleigh and Charlotte in July. More people than ever are riding the state’s intercity passenger rail service, NC By Train.
The Governor also touted new and planned investments that will replace half-century old state-owned passenger trains with modern, state-of-the-art locomotives and passenger cars and potentially lead to new routes within North Carolina. Governor Cooper, Secretary Hopkins and Amtrak Executive Vice President of Strategy and Planning Dennis Newman addressed media at Raleigh’s Union Station Friday morning before riding the Piedmont Train to Greensboro.
“NC By Train has been a success story for our state because people know it’s a safe, reliable and convenient way to travel, and my many conversations with passengers on the train today confirm that it’s a positive experience,” Governor Cooper said. “We’ve expanded service resulting in record breaking ridership, and I encourage more people to give it a try.”
“We hope that people will see us riding the train and say ‘Hey, that looks like a great idea,’” North Carolina Department of Transportation Secretary Hopkins said. “If you don’t have access to a vehicle or you don’t want to worry about getting behind the wheel, you can remove the stress and take the train.”
NC By Train, which provides daily train service between Raleigh, Charlotte and the Northeast, is managed by the N.C. Department of Transportation’s Rail Division. The state agency contracts with Amtrak to serve as the train’s operator.
“North Carolina continues to make substantial investments to improve and expand service to keep up with the increasing demand for train travel,” said Dennis Newman, Amtrak’s executive vice president of Strategy and Planning. “We are happy to partner with the state to bring more passenger rail to the region and provide customers a vital and sustainable way to travel.”
NC By Train saw its highest ridership in the service’s 32-year history in 2022, and the service is on pace to break that record in 2023. Ridership during the first three quarters of 2023 increased 23% over the same period in 2022. And in October, NC By Train experienced another milestone with its highest ever monthly ridership of 65,980 passengers.
To meet demand and grow the service, NCDOT has increased the number of daily round trips between Raleigh and Charlotte twice during Gov. Cooper’s administration – first from 3-to-4 trips in 2018 and again from 4-to-5 trips in July. July’s expansion means there are now 10 trains-per-day on the Piedmont corridor with stops in cities between Raleigh and Charlotte.
NC By Train operates some of its services on tracks owned by the North Carolina Railroad Company, which owns a 317-mile rail corridor extending from Charlotte to Morehead City.
NCDOT’s Rail Division recently applied for funds from the Federal Railroad Administration’s to explore 12 new routes to destinations such as Asheville and Wilmington. The division has also applied for FRA funds for the final engineering and construction work on a proposed passenger rail route between Raleigh and Wake Forest. This proposal is part of a larger passenger train initiative to connect North Carolina and Virginia’s rail systems with frequent, fast and reliable train service. The state agency expects to hear soon if it has won the grants.
For b roll video and photos of today’s event at Raleigh Union Station, please visit https://vimeo.com/885692126?share=copy and the online photo gallery. During the video, Secretary Hopkins speaks first followed by Governor Cooper.
Interested in riding NC By Train? Children under 2 ride for free and children under 12 are 50% off every day. Visit NCByTrain.org for tickets, full schedules and discounts to get to the events and follow NC By Train on Twitter/X and Facebook for updates and reminders.