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North Carolina Comprehensive State Rail Plan

Comprehensive State Rail Plan

NCDOT is currently preparing a Comprehensive State Rail Plan (CSRP) that will define a vision for North Carolina's existing and future rail infrastructure, and identify a program of projects and services for the state's rail system that will provide quantifiable economic and quality-of-life benefits to residents, businesses and industries.


As our state's highways become increasingly congested, North Carolina's citizens and businesses are seeking more efficient alternatives for connecting people, places and goods. Over the last decade, freight and passenger rail travel have experienced a resurgence in popularity nationwide, leading to an increased demand for new and improved rail infrastructure and rail services across the U.S. Rail will play a pivotal role in North Carolina's transportation future, especially given the financial and environmental challenges associated with increasing capacity on crowded highways. Without a well-planned outline of strategic investments, congested transportation corridors will impose significant economic, social and environmental costs on our state – costs that are anticipated to intensify over the years. Proper planning and strategic investments in transportation infrastructure will be critical to accommodate and maintain North Carolina's growing economic competiveness and high quality-of-life.

In 2008, Congress issued the Passenger Rail Investment and Improvement Act (PRIIA), which is implemented and overseen by the Federal Rail Administration (FRA). Under Section 303 of this Act, all states are required to develop state rail plans every five years in order to remain eligible for federal funding. The Department is preparing the Comprehensive State Rail Plan in compliance with this Act; however, the implications of this plan lie far deeper than just federal funding.

Ultimately, North Carolina's Comprehensive State Rail Plan will transform transportation, economic, land use and other data into a thoughtful strategic freight and passenger investment plan that makes wise and efficient use of taxpayer dollars and guides our state’s rail network to a bright and promising future.

Coordination & Outreach

The NCDOT Rail Division will work with the Highway Division, North Carolina State Ports Authority and others within the NC Department of Transportation, as well as Class I freight railroads, shortline railroads, the North Carolina Railroad Company, economic development organizations, governmental agencies including, but not limited to, the Department of Commerce, Department of Agriculture, metropolitan and rural planning organizations and other stakeholders to develop a Comprehensive State Rail Plan that complies with FRA guidelines and meets the needs of North Carolina.

MPO’s, RPO’s and shortline railroads/transload operators should submit input using the fillable PDF survey forms included in the Documents section. In addition, anyone may submit a project to be considered using the project submission form.

Public input will be gathered through this website and via a draft of the Comprehensive State Rail Plan document that will be made available for public comment. Currently, it is anticipated that the public draft of North Carolina's Comprehensive State Rail Plan will be available for comment in mid-February 2015.

If you have suggested projects you would like considered in the Rail Plan, please use the project submission form included in the Documents section.


Executive Summary

North Carolina Rail Projects Submission

CSRP-Shortline Survey

Industry Group/MPO Survey


Major milestones associated with the completion of North Carolina’s State Rail Plan are shown below. Stakeholder involvement and public comment will be integrated throughout the proposed project schedule.

Establish Vision, Goals and Objectives March 2014
Freight and Passenger Trends and Forecasts April 2014
Inventory the Existing Rail System June 2014
Identify Rail Needs and Opportunities June 2014
Identify Passenger Investments August 2014
Identify Freight Investments September 2014
Prepare State’s Rail Service and Investment Program – Funding, Costs and Economic Benefits September 2014
Public Draft of State Rail Plan mid-February 2015
Final CSRP Approval/Adoption by FRA and State Board of Transportation June 2015