Higher-speed rail from Raleigh to Richmond and additional capacity from Richmond to Washington are essential to significantly improving passenger services, while also linking the Southeast to the Northeast Corridor.
Connecting Raleigh and Richmond on the CSXT rail line would improve safety, mobility and connectivity for rail passengers and freight in the Southeastern United States and provide alternatives to highway congestion on I-85 and I-95.
In terms of economic development, linking business centers in the Southeast Corridor
is important. Rail development also encourages increasing density around station stops in addition to longer distance commuter alternatives; thereby lessening the growth in highway demand. It also provides a transportation alternative for those who cannot or choose not to drive.
Population Growth & Economic Development
The Triangle region of North Carolina is growing rapidly with an increase in population of 43 percent since 2001. The Richmond area has more than 1.3 million people and is the 44th largest metro area in the country.
Linking these two vibrant state capitals and providing linkages to Washington, D.C., and passenger rail in the Northeast Corridor are important steps forward for increased accessibility to alternative modes of transportation on the East Coast.
With competitive door-to-door travel times, higher-speed rail can be an attractive travel alternative. The Northeast Corridor currently captures between 52 percent and 70 percent of the air/rail market share in the northeast. The Southeast Corridor Raleigh to Richmond ridership/revenue studies indicate that increased access and lower travel times will demonstrate positive operating and maintenance revenues in the studied horizon.
Travel Demand Forecasts
The Tier I Study ridership and revenue forecasts for the corridor were re-examined in Tier II and anticipate that collected fares will cover all operations and maintenance costs for higher-speed rail travel in the corridor.
As with all major transportation projects, corridor preservation is crucial to ensuring that important projects are able to follow the most desirable route with minimal capital, environmental and social costs.
The proposed Raleigh to Richmond project follows the former Seaboard Air Line Railroad (S-Line) corridor while making alignment revisions to accommodate 21st Century speeds, safety and travel times.
It is essential to preserve the S-Line corridor to protect this key section of the Southeast Corridor until construction begins.
The Tiered Environmental Impact Statement process discloses the ultimate build-out scenario for higher-speed rail service in the Southeast Corridor. Since its initial designation, the corridor has been extended to link to the Hampton Roads area of Virginia. Extending the corridor southward to Jacksonville, Fla., has also been approved, and the Charlotte to Atlanta section of the Southeast Corridor was evaluated in a 2015 Tier II study.
The Tier II Final Environmental Impact Statement Raleigh to Richmond study was designed with current state-of-the-industry rail design standards to ensure the safety of the traveling public and to allow passenger and freight service to share the corridor. Along with air, rail travel is a very safe mode of travel.