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New Harrisburg Line Will Add Amtrak Trips From Charlotte To Raleigh

Tasnim Shamma

You may have noticed more traffic than usual in the Harrisburg area recently. That’s because there are six federal railroad projects under construction in the town.

The biggest project involves building a second railroad track that will run alongside the main existing line. It's part of an overall plan to increase the number of daily roundtrips between Charlotte and Raleigh.

Starting in May 2017, Amtrak passenger cars and freight trains will be able to zoom above traffic in the town of Harrisburg at speeds of up to 90 miles an hour.  This may change things a little. Project engineer Jeff D'Arruda lives just five miles away from the Roberta Road highway bridge project.

"For the most part it's some growing pains," D'Arruda says. "Just getting used to the small town turning into a bigger area, or more urban area if you will."

Credit Tasnim Shamma
Norfolk Southern freight trains passing through Roberta Road in Harrisburg on the existing rail line. A second track of 12 miles will be added in Harrisburg to run alongside it.

In 2010, the North Carolina Department of Transportation received a 500 million dollar federal grant to improve the state's railroad network. The state is using that money to build 13 trestles. 

NCDOT workers are also building 32 36.7 miles of new railroad lines. The number of daily Amtrak trips between Charlotte and Raleigh will also increase from three to five.

The improvements will also allow the state to close 23 railroad crossings in the state. And that, NCDOT says, with will improve safety and make the service more reliable.