RALEIGH -The N.C. Department of Transportation and Amtrak announced today an agreement to continue operating the Piedmont and Carolinian trains beyond Oct. 1, 2013. Federal law enacted in 2008 required both parties to agree to new terms to continue the operation of the state-supported passenger rail service.
The Piedmont operates two daily round trips between Raleigh and Charlotte. The Carolinian operates one daily round trip between New York City and Charlotte, with the state supporting the service between Charlotte and Washington, D.C.
"I want to thank Amtrak and our NC Rail team for working together to keep this vital transportation line going for our citizens," said NCDOT Secretary Tony Tata. "Our rail lines help spur job growth and keep people connected to healthcare, education, economic centers and tourism destinations."
"North Carolina recognizes the importance of Amtrak service to the state, and we are pleased these vital services will continue to help the communities grow and prosper," said Amtrak President and CEO Joe Boardman. "The North Carolina supported service connects to the Amtrak national system that provides mobility, connectivity, economic development and jobs to the state. We are proud of our partnership with the state of North Carolina."
The agreement between North Carolina and Amtrak is part of Section 209 of the Passenger Rail Investment and Improvement Act of 2008 (PRIIA), a federal law that requires Amtrak to work with the 19 affected states to establish a consistent cost-sharing methodology for the 28 corridor routes of less than 750 miles in order to ensure fair and equitable treatment of all states. Starting in late 2010, Amtrak and the Section 209 State Working Group, comprised of representatives from California, Maine, North Carolina, Virginia, and Wisconsin, developed a cost-sharing methodology that ultimately received approval for implementation by the Surface Transportation Board.
With North Carolina's announcement, at this time Amtrak has agreements with 12 of the19 affected states.
"With this agreement allowing us to continue operations, NCDOT will continue to strive for ways to make our service more efficient and effective" added Rail Division Director Paul Worley.
North Carolina and other state-supported routes continue to lead the way in ridership growth . For the month of July, Carolinian, ridership increased by 3.9 percent over July 2012, with revenue increasing by 7.9percent. Ridership for the Piedmont increased by 2.4 percent, with revenue increasing by 7.3 percent. The Piedmont has led all Amtrak routes in ridership growth, when measured in percentage terms, over the past two federal fiscal years.
State-sponsored North Carolina's Amtrak
The Piedmont and Carolinian trains are sponsored by NCDOT and operated by Amtrak. The service is paid for through state funding and passenger fares. North Carolina's Amtrak fleet of two trains provides daily service to Raleigh, Greensboro, Charlotte, nine other North Carolina cities, and to the Northeast. Complete schedule information is available at bytrain.org. Reservations are required. Travelers should book early for best fares. Tickets can be purchased at station ticket windows, automated ticket kiosks at all stations or online at Amtrak.com.
Amtrak is America's Railroad, the nation's intercity passenger rail service and its high-speed rail operator. A record 31.2 million passengers traveled on Amtrak in FY 2012 on more than 300 daily trains -at speeds up to 150 mph (241 kph) -that connect 46 states, the Di