Planned Service to Western North Carolina
Western North Carolina Rail Operations & Station Right-of-Way Acquisition - April 2002 report
Western North Carolina Passenger Rail Study - March 2001 report
The North Carolina General Assembly in 2000 directed the North Carolina Department of Transportation to study the feasibility of providing passenger rail service to western North Carolina. The March 2001 Western North Carolina Passenger Rail Study, which updated a similar report from 1997, recommended a phased implementation for passenger service and outlined the costs associated with each phase, as well as criteria to measure service performance. During the course of the studies, the operation and number of freight trains in the corridor increased markedly as Norfolk Southern added and rerouted trains between Salisbury and Asheville.
In April 2002, the department submitted to the General Assembly a summary of costs to make necessary track and signal improvements to safely and efficiently accommodate the 37 existing freight trains and four proposed passenger trains. Based on the state's current financial status and cost of track improvements, the NCDOT has recommended delaying the start of passenger train service to western North Carolina.
In the meantime, the NCDOT will continue to work with communities in western North Carolina on station projects. The department also will continue partnering with communities along the route to develop a program of safety improvements to prevent train-vehicle crashes at railroad crossings between Salisbury and Asheville.