|Service type||Inter-city rail|
|First service||May 26, 1995|
|Ridership||167,203 total (FY18)|
|Start||Raleigh, North Carolina|
|End||Charlotte, North Carolina|
|Distance travelled||173 miles (278 km)|
|Average journey time||3 hrs, 10 mins|
|Service frequency||Three round-trips daily|
|Class(es)||Reserved Coach only|
|Disabled access||Fully accessible|
|Catering facilities||Lounge car|
|Baggage facilities||Checked baggage available at select stations|
|Track gauge||1,435 mm (4 ft 8 1⁄2 in)|
|Operating speed||79 miles per hour (127 km/h) maximum; 55 miles per hour (89 km/h) average, including stops|
The Piedmont or Piedmont Service is a regional passenger train operated by Amtrak and the North Carolina Department of Transportation (NCDOT), running three times a day between Raleigh and Charlotte, North Carolina. It is a sister train to the Carolinian, which runs from Charlotte to New York City. The Piedmont route is coextensive with the far southern leg of the Carolinian, largely paralleling Interstate 85. Operations began in May 1995.
North Carolina developed the Piedmont as a regional follow-on to the successful Carolinian, which had entered service in early 1990. Officials sought to add a second daily round-trip between Charlotte and Raleigh. However, Amtrak initially balked, claiming that it didn't have enough rolling stock to spare. Undaunted, in the fall of 1990, NCDOT approved the acquisition of five used passenger cars and the leasing of two diesel locomotives. The board planned to have the second train enter service by early 1992.
The Piedmont (as the train came to be called) faced numerous delays. Norfolk Southern, which leased the track, insisted that the state construct a wye in Charlotte for turning the two trains around. At the time, the southbound Carolinian had deadheaded 10 miles (16 km) south to the nearest wye in Pineville and turned around there. In 1993, the cost of the wye plus land purchase was estimated at $200,000; by late 1994, this grew to $695,000, plus $1.5 million for a maintenance facility in Raleigh. The Piedmont finally began operating on May 26, 1995. Originally, it operated with an early-morning trip to Charlotte and a nighttime return to Raleigh. Its creation enabled same-day business travel between Charlotte and Raleigh in both directions.
After delays in refurbishing the motive power and passenger cars, an additional Piedmont round trip began operating on June 5, 2010. With the addition of the second train, Amtrak rebranded the route Piedmont Service to reflect the multiple daily frequencies.
On March 22, 2011, it was announced that an agreement between NCDOT, Amtrak, Norfolk Southern and the North Carolina Railroad had been reached that would allow for $461 million in grants from the federal government to be used in upgrading infrastructure. The money would be used to add additional double track and passing sidings, as well as reducing curves, resulting in a 13-minute reduction in travel time.
Improvements include the new Raleigh Union Station, which had its "ribbon cutting" in late April 2018 and began accepting trains that July. A third daily Piedmont round trip was added on June 4, with a fourth round trip to be added in 2019 or 2020.
While the Piedmont is operated by Amtrak crews, most other operations are handled by NCDOT. The state sets schedules, owns the equipment, and handles most of the marketing. Maintenance is handled by state contractors.
Accidents and incidents
- Charlotte District, Charlotte to Linwood
- Danville District, Linwood to Greensboro
- Raleigh District, Greensboro to Raleigh
On-board volunteers from the North Carolina Train Host Association provide information about points of interest in North Carolina. Station hosts are also on hand at the Charlotte, Greensboro and Raleigh stations.
The motive power for the Piedmont has been provided by eight state-owned locomotives. Two are EMD F59PHIs, numbered 1755 (City of Salisbury) and 1797 (City of Asheville). Six are EMD F59PHs, numbered 1810 (City of Greensboro), 1859 (City of High Point), 1869 (City of Durham), 1871 (Town of Cary), 1893 (City of Burlington), and 1984 (City of Kannapolis). NCDOT also has five cab control units which are numbered 101-105. NCDOT's current F59PHs were originally used by GO Transit of Toronto, Ontario, Canada and rebuilt by American Motive Power and Altoona Works. Locomotives from Amtrak's national fleet, such as the GE P42DC, may also be used.
NCDOT formerly operated two GP40PH-2's rebuilt by AMF. 1768 (City of Charlotte), originally B&O GP40 4008, was sold to the Virginia Railway Express and became VRE V24. 1792 (City of Raleigh), originally L&N GP40 3006, was wrecked in the Mebane accident. Everything except the EMD 645 engine, bell and horn were scrapped.
Since at least 2017, the Piedmont has operated with two locomotives on either end of the train to improve on-time performance. When westbound trains arrive in Charlotte, the engineer simply goes to the locomotive on the other end of the train to take it to Raleigh, and vice versa. With the addition of more cab control units, the Piedmont will eventually operate in push-pull mode.
State-owned passenger cars on the Piedmont are refurbished coach cars originally built by Pullman-Standard and the St. Louis Car Company in the 1960s for the Kansas City Southern and Union Pacific. There are five lounge/baggage cars and one coach/baggage car originally built by the St. Louis Car Company in the 1950s and used by the United States Army. There are 14 regular coaches used on trains in addition to the six lounge/baggage cars. Each coach is named after a state landmark or state symbol.
All rolling stock is stored and serviced in the Capital yard in Raleigh.
During fiscal year (FY) 2016, the Piedmont carried a total of 152,175 passengers, a 5.8% decrease from FY 2015's total of 161,487 passengers. The train had a total revenue of $3,213,742 during FY 2016, a drop of 2.7% below FY 2015's revenue of $3,402,929.
|Fiscal Year||Ridership||Ridership Change
(year to year)
(year to year)
|North Carolina||Raleigh||Raleigh||Amtrak: Silver Star, Carolinian|
GoRaleigh: R-Line, inbound 13,
outbounds 7, 11
GoTriangle: outbounds 301, 303, 305
|Cary||Cary||Amtrak: Silver Star, Carolinian|
GoCary: 3, 4, 5, 6
GoTriangle: 300, 301
GoDurham: all routes except 14, 20, 23
GoTriangle: 400, 405, 700, DRX, ODX
Elon BioBus: Downtown/East Burlington Loop
Alamance County Transportation
Authority: on demand
|Greensboro||Greensboro||Amtrak: Crescent, Carolinian|
GTA: all routes except 12A
PART: 2, 4, 9, 10
|High Point||High Point||Amtrak: Crescent, Carolinian, Thruway Motorcoach.[i]|
Hi tran: all routes
PART: 3, 5[i]
|Salisbury||Salisbury||Amtrak: Crescent, Carolinian|
Salisbury Transit: all routes
Rowan Transit: Rowan Express
CK Rider: Blue, Brown
Rowan Transit: Rowan Express
|Charlotte||Charlotte||Amtrak: Crescent, Carolinian|
- "Amtrak Ridership FY18" (PDF download). Amtrak. Retrieved April 4, 2019.
- Kevin McKinney (November 28, 2018). "North Carolina's Successful Alternative Approach to Rail". Passenger Train Journal.
- "DOT approves funds for Raleigh-Charlotte train". Morning Star. November 9, 1990. Retrieved April 4, 2010.
- "More delays put second Tar Heel passenger train service off track". Times-News. March 11, 1993. Retrieved April 4, 2010.
- "New train won't start on schedule". Morning Star. November 28, 1994. Retrieved April 4, 2010.
- McDowell, Edwin (June 7, 1995). "Business Travel; There have been 10 billion passengers since that first commercial flight across Tampa Bay in 1914". New York Times. Retrieved April 4, 2010.
- Bob Johnston (May 2010). "North Carolina debuts Piedmont Service". Trains Magazine. Kalmbach Publishing.
- "NCDOT Announces Two Additional Mid-Day Passenger Trains Between Raleigh and Charlotte to Begin June 5". North Carolina Department of Transportation. March 31, 2010. Retrieved April 11, 2010.
- "New mid-day train boosts North Carolina's Amtrak ridership". Progressive Railroading. August 3, 2010. Retrieved August 5, 2010.
- "North Carolina reaches fast-train deal". Trains Magazine. March 22, 2011. Retrieved March 23, 2011.
- Finley, William Needham (May 1, 2018). "Development Beat: A More Perfect Union Station - ITB Insider™". ITB Insider™. Retrieved May 2, 2018.
- Ferrell, Bruce. "Rail Service Being Adding Across NC". ncnn.com. Retrieved May 2, 2018.
- North Carolina Department of Transportation (May 1, 2018). "NC By Train Offering Additional, Daily Round Trip Starting June 4". ncbytrain.org. Retrieved May 5, 2018.
- Siceloff, Bruce (September 30, 2013). "Rail funds will speed Raleigh's Union Station, add more trains to Charlotte". The News & Observer. Archived from the original on October 6, 2013. Retrieved October 7, 2013.
- "Piedmont Improvement Program". NCDOT. Retrieved October 7, 2013.
- Minnick, Beau; Smith, Ken; Davis, Stacy (May 14, 2010). Hinchcliffe, Kelly; Johnson, Anne; Glusco, Jodi Leese; Hanrahan, Kathy (eds.). "Trains running again in Mebane after crash; road still blocked". WRAL.com. WRAL-TV. Retrieved October 21, 2015.
[A]n Amtrak train slammed into a tractor-trailer, injuring 13 people and leaving massive amounts of wreckage.
- "List of Piedmont equipment owned by NCDOT" (PDF). 2010. Archived from the original (PDF) on April 6, 2011. Retrieved October 21, 2015.
- Amtrak Piedmont 75 arrives into Durham NC (YouTube video)
- "VRE GP40-H2 No. V24". Trainweb.org. Retrieved January 26, 2014.
- "All Aboard in the Carolinas, Volume 23, Issue 3" (PDF). Carolinas Association for Passenger Trains. May – June 2017.
- "Amtrak® FY16 Ridership & Revenue" (PDF). National Railroad Passenger Corporation. November 17, 2016. Retrieved August 18, 2017.
- "Amtrak Sets New Ridership Record, Thanks Passengers for Taking the Train" (PDF download). Amtrak. October 11, 2010. Retrieved November 21, 2010.
- "Amtrak Ridership Rolls up Best-ever Records" (PDF download). Amtrak. October 13, 2011. Retrieved October 16, 2011.
- "Amtrak-Sets-New-Ridership-Record-FY2012" (PDF). Amtrak. October 10, 2012. Retrieved July 11, 2013.
- "Amtrak Fiscal Year 2014 Ridership and Revenue (10/01/13-9/30/14)" (PDF). nationalcorridors.org. October 27, 2014. Retrieved February 21, 2018.
- "AMTRAK SETS RIDERSHIP RECORD AND MOVES THE NATION'S ECONOMY FORWARD" (PDF download). Amtrak. October 14, 2013. Retrieved February 21, 2018.
- "Amtrak® FY15 Ridership & Revenue" (PDF). National Railroad Passenger Corporation. November 5, 2015. Retrieved March 31, 2016.
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