Excessive-speed rail from Raleigh to Richmond simply obtained a bit of nearer to actuality

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Dec. 23–RALEIGH — A blockbuster deal introduced final week between freight railroad CSX and the state of Virginia consists of one thing for North Carolina that can assist with the event of high-speed rail between Raleigh and Richmond. 

CSX agreed to permit the N.C. Division of Transportation to amass about 10 miles of railroad right-of-way in Warren County, between Ridgeway and the Virginia state line. Virginia will purchase one other 65 miles of the CSX line from the state line north to close Petersburg.

Leaders from North Carolina and Virginia started planning for high-speed passenger trains by way of the 2 states in 1992 and have been anticipating the day once they’d have entry to CSX’s so-called S-line between Raleigh and Petersburg. Virginia’s cope with CSX will present a lift to North Carolina’s efforts to amass the remainder of the rail line between Raleigh and Ridgeway, mentioned Jason Orthner, NCDOT’s rail director.

“Virginia’s step ahead right here units us up for a transaction on our facet of the border,” Orthner mentioned in an interview Monday.

Orthner mentioned it isn’t clear but how NCDOT will purchase the 10 miles of right-of-way in Warren County or how a lot it is going to value. “The main points will have to be labored out,” he mentioned.

Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam introduced Thursday that CSX had agreed to promote 350 miles of railroad right-of-way to the state, together with 225 miles of monitor. The $three.7 billion deal will give Virginia management over key sections of the principle rail connection between Richmond and Washington, D.C., permitting it to work with Amtrak to extend passenger rail service between the 2 cities and to enhance commuter rail service within the Northern Virginia suburbs.

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The settlement additionally requires Virginia to construct a brand new bridge throughout the Potomac River, parallel to the present one now utilized by Amtrak, commuter trains and CSX. The brand new bridge could be used completely by passenger and commuter trains, leaving the present CSX bridge for freight.

The tracks on the CSX line between Ridgeway and Petersburg had been eliminated within the 1980s. Orthner mentioned the remaining tracks between Raleigh and Ridgeway are “under-utilized” by CSX, which strikes most of its freight on the so-called A-line by way of Fayetteville, Wilson and Rocky Mount, the place the corporate is constructing a terminal to shift cargo containers between vans and trains.

The state’s long-term plans for rail service embody passenger trains able to going 110 miles per hour between Raleigh and Richmond on the S-line. Orthner says the tracks additionally could possibly be used finally for commuter rail service between downtown Raleigh and Wake Forest. NCDOT is working to get rid of railroad crossings on the CSX line in Wake County by constructing bridges, beginning with Durant and New Hope Church roads in Raleigh.

Virginia and North Carolina created the Interstate Excessive Pace Rail Compact in 1992, and the idea was later expanded to incorporate high-speed trains within the Southeast from Washington south to Atlanta and Jacksonville, Florida. State Sen. Tom McInnis, a Republican from Richmond County who heads the state’s delegation to the compact, mentioned Virginia’s pact with CSX is an enormous deal for North Carolina.

“This settlement takes us an enormous step ahead in our efforts to higher join North Carolina communities,” McInnis mentioned in a press release. “And it’ll supply new connections between our state and our neighbors, offering lasting financial growth alternatives for our state.”

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