Governor Roy Cooper today joined US Department of Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg at Raleigh Union Station to celebrate historic funding announced last week for the S-Line, a faster passenger rail route between Raleigh and Richmond. The $1.09 billion discretionary federal grant is funded by the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law championed by President Biden.
“Passenger rail is booming in North Carolina as people look for safer, faster and more affordable transportation,” said Governor Cooper. “We are investing in our growing passenger rail options and this federal grant is a game-changer that will make it easier than ever to travel to Richmond, Washington, DC and the Northeast.”
"Under President Biden, we are finally delivering the world-class passenger rail service that Americans ought to have," said US Department of Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg. "We’re making it faster, easier, and more affordable for people to visit friends and family, and travel for business. And we’re doing it all while creating a new generation of good-paying jobs."
“This project embodies our vision for a multimodal transportation system that works well for everyone,” said N.C. Transportation Secretary Joey Hopkins. “We envision residents in rural and urban communities will have access to a reliable regional rail service, with seamless and safe first and last mile connections to key destinations.”
Governor Cooper and Secretary Buttigieg were joined by Congresswoman Deborah Ross, Congresswoman Valerie Foushee, former Congressman David Price, Raleigh Mayor Mary-Ann Baldwin, Apex Mayor Jacques Gilbert and other local elected officials and passenger rail advocates.
The Federal Railroad Administration grant awarded last week to the N.C. Department of Transportation will be used to complete the initial phase of the Raleigh to Richmond Innovating Rail Program, which includes construction on the S-Line rail corridor from Raleigh to Wake Forest. The $1.09 billion grant marks the largest grant the NCDOT has received to date.
The federal rail agency on Friday also awarded the NCDOT seven grants totaling $3.5 million as part of the Corridor Identification and Development program. These grants will help enhance the state’s existing passenger rail services between Charlotte and Raleigh, and expand passenger rail into other areas of North Carolina and other states.
The S-Line rail corridor is a freight line, owned by CSX, that connects Richmond and Raleigh on the federally-designated Southeast Corridor. Virginia has already acquired the line in their state from CSX, and North Carolina officials are working to finish a deal to purchase the corridor in North Carolina. Once the Raleigh to Richmond program is complete, the passenger rail service will save over an hour of travel time between the two cities. The service will also allow much more frequent and reliable train service, and make the trip to Washington D.C. car-competitive.
Prior to this week’s grant announcement, S-Line corridor-related projects had received about $110 million in discretionary federal funds to advance the project. Those funds paid for parts of the project including surveying, preliminary engineering and station development referred to as mobility hubs. The mobility hubs bring together the rail station with last-mile transportation solutions like transit and ridesharing services that make other modes of travel accessible so customers can get to their final destinations quickly and easily.
Officials will use the $1.09 billion grant for final engineering design, right of way acquisition and construction costs for the section of the S-Line from Raleigh to Wake Forest. The money will also be used on new and upgraded track, replacement of at-grade crossings with highway/rail overpasses. Officials plan to upgrade the existing freight rail line to accommodate passenger rail service while maintaining the existing freight rail service. Construction in Wake County will also include highway and rail bridges, including two safety projects in Cary that are also on the Southeast Corridor.
The NCDOT will also receive from FRA $3.5 million in Corridor Identification and Development program grants, the Federal Railroad Administration announced Friday. Those seven grants will be used to begin the planning process for developing passenger services on rail corridors between:
- Winston-Salem and Raleigh
- Charlotte and Washington D.C.
- Wilmington and Raleigh
- Fayetteville and Raleigh
- Charlotte and Atlanta
- Charlotte and Kings Mountain
- Salisbury and Asheville
This news comes as the NC By Train passenger rail service is experiencing record-breaking ridership. Helping drive the increased ridership are many new state services, including the expansion of the passenger rail service to five daily round trips between Charlotte and Raleigh this year.