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NC By Train adds new departure from Charlotte

The scheduled addition becomes the fifth roundtrip passenger train running between the two North Carolina cities.

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Amtrak and the North Carolina Department of Transportation are adding an additional train to their existing passenger rail service between Charlotte and Raleigh.

Starting July 10, a fifth train connecting some of North Carolina's major cities will be added to the timetable.

The new train will depart Raleigh at 1 p.m. with a 4:10 p.m. arrival time in Charlotte. That same train will then depart Charlotte at 5:30 p.m. to return to Raleigh at 8:29 p.m.

With services provided by Amtrak, NC By Train is a state-run service providing multiple trains throughout the day on its Piedmont service, which connects Raleigh and Charlotte with stops in Cary, Durham, Burlington, Greensboro, High Point, Salisbury and Kannapolis.

Once the new schedule takes effect on July 10, trains will depart from Charlotte's Amtrak station on North Tryon Street at:

  • 6:45 a.m. as Carolinian 80, with arrival in Raleigh at 10:05 a.m. and continuing service to the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast.
  • 10:25 a.m. as Piedmont 72 with termination in Raleigh at 1:41 p.m.
  • 2:20 p.m. as Piedmont 74 with termination in Raleigh at 5:36 p.m.
  • 5:30 p.m. as Piedmont 76 with termination n Raleigh at 8:29 p.m.
  • 7:45 p.m. as Piedmont 78 with termination in Raleigh at 10:52 p.m. 

Likewise, trains will return from Raleigh to Charlotte at the following times:

  • 6:30 a.m. as Piedmont 71 with termination in Charlotte at 9:28 a.m.
  • 10 a.m. as Piedmont 73 with termination in Charlotte at 1:10 p.m.
  • 1 p.m. as Piedmont 75 with termination in Charlotte at 4:10 p.m.
  • 3:15 p.m. as Piedmont 77 with termination in Charlotte at 6:21 p.m.
  • 5:30 p.m. as Carolinian 79 with termination in Charlotte at 8:56 p.m.

Additionally, the daily Crescent train provides service between New York and New Orleans, with local stops in Gastonia, Charlotte, Salisbury, High Point and Greensboro before then traveling north towards Charlottesville, Virginia. Crescent 20 will continue to depart northbound from Charlotte at 5:31 a.m. and southbound toward Atlanta at 2:55 a.m as Crescent 19. 

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Amtrak's Carolinian originates in Charlotte with service terminating in New York City. It will continue to depart the Queen City at 6:45 a.m. as Carolinian 80. In North Carolina, it services Charlotte, Kannapolis, Salisbury, High Point, Greensboro, Burlington, Durham, Cary, Raleigh, Selma-Smithfield, Wilson, and Rocky Mount before traveling toward Richmond, Virginia.

NC By Train has operated since 1990. 

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In 2018, NC By Train launched a fourth daily round trip between Raleigh and Charlotte. In September 2022, the service saw more monthly passengers than any other month in its 32-year history. The Carolinian and Piedmont trains handled 48,488 passengers, which marked an increase of 32% over the average pre-pandemic monthly ridership levels from 2014 to 2019, according to the state. Overall this year, there was a 65.3% increase in ridership compared to 2021, which itself saw a 118.7% increase.

In December, NC DOT operated the first "test train" into the future home of Charlotte's new Gateway station. Once operational, it will relocate the city's Amtrak service from the existing station on North Tryon Street to the new station within the heart of Uptown, where there will be connecting service on CityLYNX Gold Line, bus routes, and other local transit.

The North Carolina Department of Transportation was responsible for Phase 1, which saw the construction of the new tracks, passenger platform and supporting rail infrastructure. The phase finished on schedule and within budget, estimated to be about $86.38 million, according to an NCDOT spokesperson and data published by the state. The funding consisted of $30 million from the federal government, $47,350,000 from the state, and $9,034,986 from the City of Charlotte.

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The City of Charlotte is responsible for the second phase, which will see the construction of a multi-story, and multi-use building that will feature railroad operations in addition to space for retail, residential, commercial, and dining accommodations.  

"We hope to see the Phase 2 work complete and trains delivering passengers to the new station in the next few years," a NC DOT spokesperson told WCNC Charlotte in December.

The second phase of construction will see the construction of a new building, which will serve as a transit hub within walking distance of popular destinations including Truist Field, Bank of America Stadium, and Romare Bearden Park. The complex will sit near West Fourth Street and West Trade Street near what is currently the Greyhound  Bus Station.

Phase 2 is expected to cost at least $52 million, according to project documentation.

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