Station Aficionado wrote: ↑Tue Nov 29, 2022 11:50 pm
On another NC note, how much freight is CSX running now on the S-Line between Raleigh and Columbia? I thought I remembered hearing that it was pretty sparse north of Hamlet. Is CSX committed to maintaining the line? If not, It's hard to see that route surviving as a passenger line. There's no anchor in NC south of Raleigh and SC won't lift a finger to preserve service to Columbia. I think the state put money into the stations at Hamlet and Southern Pines and they built the second platform at Cary, but it's hard to see them putting big bucks in to maintain an acceptable MAS.
I am not sure the sale has closed yet but I heard from a very reliable source (in 2020) that NCDOT had an agreement in place to purchase the S-Line section from Raleigh to Sanford along with (at the same time as) the northern leg to Norlina (for the S-Line shortcut to Petersburg). The agreement on both sections allows CSX to continue to move locals, but NCDOT has planned commuter service to Raleigh Union Station on both ends of the S-Line.
Part of the rationale for this purchase was that CSX controls the dispatching on the double track section between Cary and Raleigh, so the NCDOT purchase would given them some control over NS’ intransigence on the NCRR.
Having said all of the above, all of that discussion was pre-covid. The Triangle has been struggling to create commuter rail along the NCRR and costs have come in much higher than expected. The S-Line runs along a less attractive route so it is possible that NCDOT has stepped back from this plan over the past couple of years.
IMO service to Columbia make more sense from Charlotte (and the Star could be routed that way), but there are station problems in Columbia when using this route. It would make a tone of sense to run 12 Piedmont trains per day to Charlotte and run 6 of them on to Columbia and the rest to KCLT-Gastonia (and possibly Greenville). But South Carolina gotta be South Carolina…