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North Carolina Comprehensive State Rail Plan

North Carolina Comprehensive State Rail Plan

The North Carolina Department of Transportation developed its Comprehensive State Rail Plan in compliance with the Passenger Rail Investment and Improvement Act, which is implemented and overseen by the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA).

Under this act, all states are required to develop rail plans at least every five years. The State Rail Plan follows FRA guidance published in September 2013. The State Rail Plan is designed to transform transportation, economic, land use and other data into a thoughtful, strategic freight and passenger investment plan.

The North Carolina Comprehensive State Rail Plan was approved and adopted at the North Carolina Board of Transportation Multi-modal Committee meeting on Aug. 5, 2015.

The Comprehensive State Rail Plan is also available on the Rail Division Resources Site on Connect NCDOT.

State Rail Plan Recommendations


  • Projects at intermodal terminals, transload facilities or manufacturing companies that can benefit the economy by linking North Carolina industries to the overall rail network.
  • Fund track improvements on corridors prioritized based on rail volumes, truck volumes on parallel highways, the Strategic Rail Corridor Network (STRACNET) and connectivity to major freight activity centers.
  • Support rail industrial access and short lines through state grants to enhance North Carolina industries’ connectivity to the Class I rail system.


  • Add amenities and conveniences to existing passenger services to enhance rider experience.
  • Add more frequencies to the Piedmont and Carolinian (Raleigh to Charlotte) services to enhance mobility. This can help connect people to jobs and educational opportunities across regions.
  • Improve stations and maintain and/or replace equipment, such as locomotives and passenger cars.
  • Pursue full implementation of the Southeast Rail Corridor, which, when completed, may provide a public-private partnership opportunity for operations and maintenance.
  • Implement Amtrak Thruway Bus Service to western North Carolina.
  • Plan for future expansions of rail service to western and southeastern North Carolina.


  • Continue investing in the NCDOT’s nationally recognized best-practice safety programs through at-grade crossing improvements, Federal Railroad Administration- certified State Rail Safety Inspections and BeRailSafe.


  • Encourage operators to take advantage of state intermodal tax credits where possible.
  • Support the reauthorization of federal rail, freight and passenger programs.
  • Use state and local funding and private investment to leverage federal funds.

The State Rail Plan and Governor McCory’s 25-Year Vision

The State Rail Plan and Governor McCrory’s 25-Year Vision logo

The State Rail Plan is a major component of Governor Pat McCrory’s 25-Year Vision for North Carolina, which includes the following rail-related goals: