A new Amtrak station in Raleigh and one under construction in Charlotte are hubs for local transit networks and new urban development in North Carolina’s two largest cities. The two stations provide anchors for the state’s growing state passenger rail system and long-range plans to build better freight and passenger rail service in the Southeast Corridor between Atlanta and Washington, D.C.
Over the past decade, the N.C. Department of Transportation has upgraded stations, added tracks, straightened curves, reduced travel times, improved crossing safety and increased daily frequencies between Raleigh and Charlotte. The three-hour Raleigh-Charlotte schedule will have five daily round trips by 2025 when the state-sponsored Piedmont adds another pair of trains to the route.
NCDOT and Charlotte broke ground in 2018 on tracks and other infrastructure for the $90 million Charlotte Gateway Station project in the city’s Uptown. Charlotte Gateway will bring together bus, light rail, and streetcar lines, and will replace an Amtrak depot that serves 170,000 travelers a year.
To the south, NCDOT is working with its counterparts in South Carolina and Georgia on the early plans for a passenger rail corridor that could provide two-hour rail service to Atlanta. Across the state, NCDOT and Virginia have fleshed out plans for a fast short-cut north from Raleigh to Petersburg. This will restore service to an inactive freight line and could reduce the travel time to Washington and other areas in the Northeast by 90 minutes.
Like Charlotte, Raleigh had long ago outgrown its cramped, inaccessible Amtrak depot. NCDOT and Raleigh aligned plans, visions, and funding to build the new $110 million Raleigh Union Station. The station opened in 2018 and became a magnet for redevelopment in the city’s Warehouse District. Union Station will be a hub for local and regional bus and rail transit services.