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High-speed rail hearings begin

North Carolina officials are beginning public hearings about a high-speed rail segment that will stretch from North Carolina's capital into Virginia.It's a section of a rail corridor that will eventually connect Charlotte to Washington with trains traveling at top speeds of 110 miles per hour.

The North Carolina Department of Transportation has scheduled an information session and public meeting for Tuesday night in Norlina near the Virginia state line on Interstate 85. Officials will discuss a proposed impact statement for the rail section.

This will be the first of several meetings in both North Carolina and Virginia for the section that will go from Raleigh to Richmond.

-- Associated Press

By Michael Bolden  | July 12, 2010; 9:29 AM ET
Categories:  Transportation Politics, Virginia  
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Before high speed rail is considered, why dont they justify the need first by increasing the availability of regular passenger rail service? Currently the elapsed time of rail travel is not nearly the problem as the frequency of trains to travel on.

Posted by: NCGuy58 | July 12, 2010 10:23 AM | Report abuse

NCGuy58, I respectfully disagree. Simply adding more trains is not possible without spending oodles of money to add more tracks. Anyone who has taken the train between Raleigh and Washington will tell you: the main problem is not speed, it's not frequency. It's reliability! With so many freight trains and Amtrak trains already plying the tracks, you'd have to spend oodles of money and still wind up with a number of deficiencies in the service: (1) passenger trains would still take a circuitous route that diverts down to Selma, NC before turning north, (2) be limited to 80mph, (3) have to work around CSX freight trains. And still, since CSX owns the tracks, they would offer no guarantee of reliability, especially not on hot days (HALF THE YEAR) when heat restrictions limit trains to 60mph instead of the usual 80mph. If you're spending the money (and it would probably be a $billion) to add capacity to the existing line, might as well just build a separate, direct, faster, dedicated line for passenger trains instead. By the way, I have heard this line is being designed such that it will accommodate 150+mph trains in the future. Upping the speed from 110 to 150 would take place some time in the future, once electrification is extended, first to Richmond and then onwards to Raleigh.

Posted by: orulz | July 12, 2010 7:22 PM | Report abuse

@NCGuy58 I agree with you, but the truth is that 110MPH train service is "regular-speed" rail. Trains regularly traveled at this speed well before World War II and the advent of so-called bullet trains. Diesel trains can easily go this speed.

It would be great to have a nationwide network of trains traveling at this speed instead of 79 MPH, which leads to slower average travel times than private automobiles due to station stops and the fact that many people speed on the highways.

Posted by: ajl7f | July 16, 2010 10:04 PM | Report abuse

Yeah, it might only be regular speed rail, but it is a still huge improvement over what we currently have.

We just don't seem to be willing to commit the resources needed to build HSR over the entire nation all in one go.

Posted by: jackrussell252521 | July 17, 2010 12:06 PM | Report abuse

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