The N.C. Department of Transportation is investing in the modernization of the state’s railways through a series of railroad and highway construction projects and enhancements known as the Piedmont Improvement Program, or PIP. The outcome will make train travel safer and more reliable, enhance opportunity for greater job growth and commercial development and better connect the economic regions of Raleigh and Charlotte and the cities, towns and communities in between.
These projects are largely funded through federal stimulus money through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. The Federal Railroad Administration awarded the state a $546.5 million grant from that program in 2010. A cooperative agreement with the agency specifies that $520 million of the money goes directly to PIP. The rest of the money is helping to improve reliability of existing freight and passenger service from Raleigh to Virginia.
Project Overview and Purpose
- The Piedmont Improvement Program includes adding up to two daily passenger- train round trips between Raleigh and Charlotte – making a total of five round trips daily, building new bridges for trains to cross over or under vehicular traffic and closing some railroad crossings. Additionally, roads will be constructed and parallel railroad tracks built along parts of the corridor that move freight and passengers through the heart of the state.
- North Carolina has nearly 3,300 miles of track used by passenger and freight trains alike. PIP also will benefit Class One railroads, such as Norfolk Southern and CSX Transportation.
- "Since all trains use all tracks, these improvements will ensure more opportunities for businesses and our freight partners," said NCDOT Rail Director Paul Worley. "Safety and efficiency on the tracks allow freight railroads to get more goods to communities in our state to bring about job growth and economic development."
- To complete the work, NCDOT is partnering with the North Carolina Railroad Company, the owner of the Raleigh to Charlotte railroad corridor, and Norfolk Southern Railway and CSX Transportation, which are performing the track construction.
Subject to Federal Railroad Administration cooperative agreements, the Piedmont Improvement Program will specifically:
- Add 12 new bridges that will carry roadways over or under railroad tracks to separate traffic from trains and improve safety for motorists.
- Add 31 miles of parallel, or second track, and passing sidings, to help freight and passenger trains move in a more reliable and timely manner.
- Add 12 miles of new highway construction.
- Close 23 public and 15 private railroad crossings to eliminate the potential for train and vehicle collisions.
- Add two daily passenger-train round trips between Raleigh and Charlotte with seven stops in between.
- Renovate train stations in Cary, High Point, Burlington and Kannapolis.
- Refurbish and add passenger rail cars to the fleet.
All Piedmont Improvement Program track and bridge construction projects are now underway, with several projects already completed.