FROM THE CAB - March 2021

By Martin Wheeler, President, CAPT

NEW PASSENGER SERVICE? - Norfolk Southern (NS) has notified the Federal Railroad Administration it plans to de-signal its S line through North Carolina between Asheville and Statesville.  The line no longer carries any through freight.   The section is part of the line the N.C. Department of Transportation has long been eyeing for resumption of rail passenger service between Salisbury and Asheville.  NS would require a new signal and centralized traffic control system anyway if passenger service were to return.

SECOND PLATFORM IN SALISBURY – Early next year, construction is expected to begin on a second platform at the Salisbury, North Carolina, Amtrak station. Three passenger trains – the Crescent, the Carolinian, and the Piedmont are served at this station. Estimated completion date is sometime in 2024.

According to a newspaper story by Natalie Anderson of the Salisbury Post, “local leaders (in Salisbury) hail the project as one that will improve safety while implementing innovative infrastructure consistent with the historical character of the train station.”

A proposed underground tunnel will provide access to the new platform on the east side of the railroad tracks. It is a $19.7 million dollar project, with the City of Salisbury responsible for $780,000 of the total cost. The North Carolina Department of Transportation (NCDOT) will use State Transportation Improvement Program dollars to fund most of the project, which was approved last month by the Salisbury City Council, newspaper reports say.

A right-of-way acquisition, with a cost of $1.64 million, is included.

Freight and passenger services could see expansion, with greater accessibility to Raleigh, Greensboro, and Charlotte. The Historic Salisbury Foundation, which owns the 100-year-old station, and NCDOT are working together on the design, which is 25 percent complete. Improvements on the rail corridor will occur between mileposts 333.1 and 333.9.

INCREASED SERVICE BETWEEN ROANOKE AND D.C. – Virginia’s General Assembly has passed legislation to expand Amtrak service at a cost of $167 million dollars. Half of the money will go to adding a second regional train between Roanoke and Washington, while also studying an extension beyond Roanoke to Bedford and Bristol in the New River Valley.  The other half of the money goes to expanding and improving Virginia Railway Express service between Washington and Manassas.

Virginians for high speed rail and the Southern Environmental Law Center have released a report on Virginia's rail passenger efforts.  The report can be found at report.

37 RENEW MEMBERSHIP – As Amtrak begins to bring back 12 long-distance routes, 36 individuals and one corporate member have renewed their affiliations with the Carolinas Association for Passenger Trains. They are (in alphabetical order): Phil Astwood, Charles Bell, Bob Bischoff, John and Susan Bobinyec, Capt. Phillip Bush, USNR, James Carpenter, William Cole, George Dolan, Ralph Forbes, Jim Frierson, Bill Graves, Charles Harper, Bianca Howard, and Murrell Johnson. Others renewing membership are Guy Kirk, Rev. Frederick LaBrecque, Edwin Locklin, Gayle and Joel McCurry, Ralph Messera, Linda Nelon, Mike Noonkester, Daniel Peacock, Peter Richardson, David Robinson, Rafe Royle, Skip Ruedeman, Harmon (Rocky) Shay, Bernard Silverman, Charles Tubman, John Wagner, Stephen Weissman, Martin Wheeler, Linda Yutzy, Don Yehle, and Robert Menzies, Aberdeen Carolina & Western (corporate member).