Following the release of GoTriangle’s Commuter Rail Feasibility Report on Jan. 4, community members and other stakeholders have asked the agency why the planned route will not transport commuters to the Raleigh-Durham International Airport.
GoTriangle President and CEO Charles Lattuca explained in a local news story that the existing rail corridor where commuter trains would be placed does not extend toward the airport and that a spur would be difficult and extremely costly to construct.
The proposed commuter rail route would run along North Carolina Railroad Company-owned rails which Amtrak also relies upon for freight use, a local report said.
According to GoTriangle’s feasibility assessment, a strong commuter rail system in the region could offer between 12,000 and 18,000 trips per day and help alleviate some of the anticipated traffic congestion that officials anticipate with projected population growth in the years to come.
Most commuter destinations in the region are already in close proximity to the existing North Carolina Railroad tracks, including Research Triangle Park, which is home to three research universities, and the current downtown rail stations in Raleigh, Cary, and Durham.
“If the right-of-way was there, we’d be at the airport,” Lattuca told The News & Observer. “That’s a no-brainer. We are going to have to address the airport. You hear that all the time.”
In the meantime, officials are planning to use shuttle buses to connect commuters between RDU and the nearest commuter rail station roughly three miles away, the report said.
The simplest and least expensive route for commuter rail in the area is to stay on the current rail corridor. Even so, officials say it would still cost roughly $3.2 billion to construct a second set of rails, new stations, and purchase additional train cars, which could lead GoTriangle to construct the line in stages, the report said.
GoTriangle’s Commuter Rail Feasibility Report is available to review in detail here.