Hillsborough hopes for trains

Apparently some Hillsborough residents are working to restore train service to their town. It sounds encouraging, although I'm confused that they didn't mention TTA or plans for regional rail connections.

The potential of commuter rail service returning to Hillsborough is part of a study being conducted by engineering firm HNTB, which was presented last week to town officials and residents.

Jim Kessler, an HNTB representative, explained the scope of the study that explores the possibility of passenger trains stopping through Hillsborough. The study, which began in October and will conclude in June 2008, will explore how well-suited the current rail system is to passenger service, Kessler said. It is not, he added, a feasibility study that would lead directly into restoring those services.


The study coincides with a request originated by Hillsborough resident Art Mines, who circulated a petition over the summer and presented the town board with several hundred names of people who would support the return of passenger service to Hillsborough. A formal resolution presented to town and county commissioners requests that a temporary train station be established by September 2009.

- News of Orange: Two train presentations may help movement gain steam




One of the great opportunities about restoring train service to Hillsborough is that it can occur regardless of the timing and speed of progress on Triangle-based rail services. There are 4 intercity Amtrak trains that pass through Hillsborough every day, and because of the curvy tracks in the area, they even have to slow down. We might as well have them stop and let Orange County residents get on, and let others get off to visit us. Building a station in Hillsborough that can serve Amtrak trains in no way precludes the station from serving other Triangle-specific trains in the future.
Here is an HNTB presentation given in Burlington last week: http://www.ncleg.net/documentsites/committees/21stCenturyTransportation/Intermodal/Presentations/4.%20%20North%20Carolina%20Railroad%20Commuter%20Rail%20Presentation%201-4-2008.pdf or try http://tinyurl.com/3bjjpm The concept explained to us is to have commuter service Goldsboro to Greensboro, but there won't really be a large number of through train s running the whole distance. There may be four trains from Clayton to Mebane in the morning, four in the afternoon, and a midday. (in each direction.) A lesser level of service may run west to Greensboro and east to Goldsboro. Hillsborough would definitely be a stop. The study also would specifically look at service from University Station to Chapel Hill along the State University Railroad. (I may get to ride on the line on a passenger vehicle from University Station to Chapel Hill in the next couple of months. Working on details.) In any case, the HNTB study will deal with more technical issues, not scheduling -- how many extra tracks are needed. Signalization. Grade crossing improvements, etc. The problem with AMTRAK stops in Hillsborough is that they are trying to reduce time between Raleigh and Charlotte, adding more double tracks and signalization, and the extra five minutes due to a stop runs contra to that. Just telling you the thinking. -Gerry

Anything that demonstrates popular and municipal interest in reviving and elaborating the passenger rail system is a Good Thing, whether it happens soon or not for awhile.

Out of curiosity, does anyone have a map showing where in Hillsborough the train station is/would be?

The three county 29-member Special Transit Advisory Committee, which has been meeting for the last 9 months to come up with a new transit plan for Wake/Durham/Orange, gave tentative approval today to a $2.04 billion plan for spending in the next 12 years. Final action is set for a February 29 meeting, then it goes on up the food chain to various transportation planning groups and potential funding. For Orange County, the major capital invetment is a 16.0 mile $739 million light rail line connecting UNC Hospitals to the new Durham Intermodal Station (across the street from the current Durham Amtrak Station). Service would be via a corridor across South Campus to Fordham Blvd, then along NC 54, with possible stations at the new 54E project, Meadowmont, Leigh Village (a planned development near I-40) where the line parallels I-40 then crosses it, Patterson Place, then following the 15-501 corridor past South Square to Duke Hospital and on to downtown. If this all actually happened, the line would be completed 12/31/2020. Proposed service headways would be 10 minutes at peak hour, 20 minutes midday and evening, along with weekend service.  This would be similar type service to Charlotte's new South Line that opened in November



A 5.0 mile $231m extension to Carolina North and Eubanks Road is not shown as a priority for funding by 2020, but would be on a "2035 Vision Plan" for future consideration.


Thanks for posting this very concise and accurate summary of the plan we tentatively approved today. The thing I would like to point out is that this is a truly regional plan: extending from UNC Hospitals on the west to Durham, through RTP to Cary and then on to Raleigh and north along Capitol Blvd. to Durant Road. There would also be a connection from RDU airport to the system somewhere near or at Triangle Metro Center.

I went into today's meeting somewhat pessimistic that we could readily achieve consensus on a regional plan for 2020. I was especially delighted to find that our group (appointed by the two metropolitan planning organizations) had no qualms about putting aside their local loyalties to support a plan that would provide an extensive and connected public transit system throughout the Triangle. We also emphasized that this plan would begin with a considerable expansion of the regional bus system(s), including expansion of existing systems (routes) as well as development of service to unserved or underserved areas, particularly those in the outlying areas of the six counties involved.

It is noteworthy that STAC members chose to design a system based not just on cost but, more importantly, on what they believe to be the minimum resources necessary to adequately serve the entire region. I believe that we can insure the success of this initial plan (the 2020 Plan) by carefully and consistently educating the public as to the value such a system will bring to their overall quality of life and that of future generations to come.

And finally, I want to thank you, Gerry, for all of the insightful contributions you have made to our discussions over the last nine months.

Here's an N&O story on today's transit meeting


and a WRAL piece with an attached video


George, thanks for the kind words.

So, which one of you wants to write up a quick post about this and the potential implications for Orange County? :-)
I'll let George do it if he wishes!

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