From Charlotte to Asheville and Wilmington on Amtrak’s new proposed train routes

From Charlotte to Asheville and Wilmington on Amtrak’s new proposed train routes

Photo: Alivia McAtee/Axios

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A new proposal from Amtrak means that you could soon travel from the Carolina coast to the city of Charlotte to the mountains by train.

Driving the news: In response to President Biden’s $2 trillion infrastructure proposal, which includes $80 billion for rail, Amtrak released a map full of big dreams — new routes and proposed upgrades zigzagging across the U.S. by 2035.

  • The routes in North Carolina include legs from Salisbury to Asheville and Raleigh to Wilmington, both easy connections off the existing Charlotte to New York track.
  • The proposal also means routes to Nashville, Chattanooga and other Southern cities, by way of Atlanta.

Why it matters: Look at all those lines running through our state. If Congress moves forward with Biden’s plan, North Carolina would be well-connected not just by highways, but by more energy-efficient rail, too.

  • Traveling by train is 83% more energy efficient than driving and up to 73% more energy efficient than flying, Amtrak reports.

[Go deeper: Rail’s big moment is arriving]

amtrak

A close-up look at Amtrak’s proposed routes in the Southeast. The light blue color signifies new routes. Photo: Screenshot from Amtrak’s proposal

Beyond the new routes, Amtrak’s proposal promises upgrades that fit the needs of riders today. Take the existing route from Charlotte to Atlanta, for example: It leaves here at 2:45am. Who’s that serving here?

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Where do things stand: In addition to the middle-of-the-night Crescent route, which runs from New Orleans to New York, Charlotte is also along the Piedmont (Charlotte to Raleigh) and the  Carolinian (Charlotte to New York) lines with stops in Greensboro, Salisbury and Durham.

[Full guide: How to ride the train in Charlotte right now]

What’s next: If Congress moves ahead with the plan, we’ll still have years to wait for Amtrak’s 2035 vision plan to be realized.

My thought bubble: A 70mph train ride with the Blue Ridge Mountains in the background sounds magical. Count me in … in a decade.

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