North Carolina and Virginia are getting $58 million from the federal government to help build out anticipated high-speed passenger rail service between the states’ capitals.
The Federal Railroad Administration announced the grant - the largest of 46 awarded nationwide on Thursday - to begin engineering work on a rail corridor connecting Raleigh and Petersburg, Virginia. The high-speed rail will reach north to Richmond, media outlets reported.
The two states have been planning since 1992 for such trains between the capitals, with a route set several years ago. The so-called “S-line” is being bought by the states from freight railroad CSX Corp.
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“This is a project of regional significance, and the cooperation that we’ve seen demonstrates that both states fully understand that reality,” said U.S. Rep David Price, D-N.C., who leads the House appropriations subcommittee for transportation. The investments will help develop a passenger rail corridor between Washington and Atlanta, he added.
Price was joined at a news conference in Wake Forest by Gov. Roy Cooper, Federal Railroad Administration head Amit Bose and former New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu, who is implementing the $1 trillion infrastructure package Congress passed last fall. The bipartisan infrastructure law included money to boost such railroad grants.
“It’s about creating a fast train that makes it go faster, safer, smarter and gets people from where they are to where they want to be,” Landrieu said Thursday.
The plan is for passenger trains capable of going 110 mph (about 160 kph) to begin stopping in Wake Forest as part of the Raleigh-to-Richmond route in the next three to seven years, state Transportation Department Rail Division director Jason Orthner said.
CSX still uses tracks on portions of the S-line in North Carolina for freight traffic and will continue to use tracks in the corridor in the future, Orthner said. North Carolina DOT is eliminating railroad crossings in Wake County to prepare for the high-speed trains.