FROM THE CAB - April 2021

By Martin Wheeler, President, CAPT

AS WE GO TO PRESS -- The 40 members of the Carolina Association for Passenger Trains are taking notice of the “visionary” plans proposed by President Biden on March 31 to spend $80 billion towards upgrading and expanding intercity rail, $85 billion to modernize mass transit, and $25 billion for projects of national significance. Look for more details next month.

THIRD ROUND TRIP FOR THE PIEDMONT – Beginning April 5, a third daily roundtrip resumes between Charlotte and Raleigh. Passenger train riders from Burlington, Cary, Durham, Greensboro, High Point, Salisbury, and Kannapolis will also benefit from this additional service. Complete schedules and ticketing details are available at

NEW STANDARD OF TRAVEL -Amtrak passengers in both North and South Carolina are experiencing enhanced cleaning and disinfecting protocols at stations and onboard trains, while also experiencing onboard filtration systems which bring a fresh air exchange every four to five minutes. Physical distancing is encouraged in high traffic areas at Amtrak’s busiest stations and rail passengers are required to wear a face mask board trains and in stations.

NCDOT EQUIPMENT NEWS –The Rail Division is moving ahead with purchase plans for new locomotives and passenger cars for the “Piedmont “ service. It’s expected by 2024 there will be enough passenger cars to make up one train set. By 2026 all the rest of the cars and locomotives should have arrived. The purchases are funded by two federal grants totalling 168 million dollars. The existing Piedmont equipment will be held as back up, and for any new service routes created. Thirteen former “Circus Coaches,” once owned by Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Circus, will be auctioned off by the Rail Division. NCDOT says it takes time to find interested parties, agree on pricing, and terms and conditions for this unique rail equipment.

RPA GOES TO CONGRESS –Rail Passengers Association council members will be participating in a “Virtual Day on the Hill” on Tuesday, April 20th. Council members will be advocating for “A Connected America” with Transportation staff members from the U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate. CAPT Board member Don Yehle will be representing South Carolina in this annual event.