National Association of Railroad Passengers Opens National Meeting in Charlotte

Honors state and local leadership in passenger rail

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Charlotte, N.C., October 25, 2007 – The National Association of Railroad Passengers (NARP) opened its board meeting today by praising the contributions the City of Charlotte and the State of North Carolina have made to regional mobility.

“North Carolina and the City of Charlotte have exhibited sustained leadership, vision and investment that will make North Carolina’s passenger rail network the envy of the nation,” said George Chilson, president of NARP.

Chilson cited the state’s long-term support for Amtrak’s Carolinian and Piedmont services as well as investments to upgrade track, increase speeds and improve stations and facilities throughout the state. Chilson also commended the City of Charlotte for its commitment to commuter and light rail.

“Charlotte has worked hard to blend transportation and land-use,” said Bob Bischoff, director of the Carolinas Association for Passenger Trains (CAPT). “These efforts have paid off handsomely even before service has started. We’re convinced all of our corridors will enjoy the same success.”

As part of the meeting, NARP and CAPT will present Charlotte Mayor Patrick McCrory with “Multiple Choices – Integrating Rail into America’s Future,” a painting of a multi-modal train station that is a gift to the people of Charlotte. On Friday, October 26, Patrick Simmons, Director of North Carolina Department of Transportation’s (NCDOT) Rail Division, will address the NARP Board and participate in a panel discussion about ways in which other regions can replicate North Carolina’s success.

NARP is the only national citizen-based organization advocating increased use of trains to address the problems we face with energy, congestion and global warming. NARP’s goal is to have a nationwide “grid and gateway” system in place in the next 40 years—or sooner—by improving existing rail lines, by expanding the number of high-speed rail corridors in higher-density areas, and by growing capacity where bottlenecks create delays, reduce speed and limit frequencies.

A map of the proposed “grid and gateway” network and information on its benefits are available here on our website

“North Carolina’s plan, which predates NARP’s national grid and provides an even more expansive vision for the region, shows how this idea is a viable one that can be implemented on a regional basis,” said NARP Executive Director Ross Capon. “The key elements needed to make NARP’s vision a reality are leadership and commitment by elected officials and policymakers in Washington.”

State-supported Amtrak Carolinian and Piedmont trains provide daily service between Charlotte, Raleigh, and intermediate points, and the Carolinian offers continuing service to Richmond, Washington, Philadelphia, New York City, and intermediate points. Investments by the State of North Carolina have improved stations in Salisbury, Burlington, Cary, Greensboro, Hamlet, High Point, Kannapolis, Fayetteville, Raleigh, Rocky Mount, Selma, Wilson and Southern Pines. In October 2007, NCDOT received an award for Outstanding Achievement in Public Policy from the National Trust for Historic Preservation, honoring the agency’s railroad station improvement program. The State of North Carolina and City of Charlotte are developing a major new multi-modal station that will serve the region and the Southeast.

Charlotte Area Transit System (CATS) has developed a hub-and-spoke system, with five spokes receiving transit improvements, supported by a one-half cent levy on the sales tax and by new guidelines favoring transit- and pedestrian-oriented real estate development. Light rail transit service begins November 26 on the south line; the Northeast line also will be light rail. The O Line to the north will receive commuter railroad service, and an extended east-west streetcar line is planned.

About NARP

NARP is the largest national citizen-based advocacy organization for train and rail transit passengers. We have worked since 1967 to expand the quality and quantity of passenger train service in the U.S. Our mission is a modern, customer-focused national passenger train network that provides a travel choice Americans want. Our work is supported by over 23,000 individual members.

About CAPT

The Carolinas Association for Passenger Trains (CAPT) is an independent organization of citizens dedicated for over 25 years to the improvement and expansion of passenger rail service, as part of a balanced transportation policy, through and within the Carolinas. CAPT is not affiliated with Amtrak or any state Department of Transportation. Meetings are held every other month in various cities within the two states.