The state Department of Transportation says the latest numbers show Amtrak train service between Raleigh and Charlotte is among the fastest growing corridors in the country.
The “Piedmont” and “Carolinian” trains transported about 480,000 riders in the past year.
Amtrak passengers with suitcases, pillows and smart devices started gathering their items as the attendant in the downtown Durham station made this announcement.
“Attention passengers, the next train to arrive into the Amtrak Durham station will be number 79, the “Carolinian” our westbound service to Charlotte with stops in Burlington, Greensboro, High Point, Salisbury, Kannapolis and Charlotte.”
The 2013 annual report released by Amtrak says ridership on the “Carolinian” is up about 4 percent to 317,550 passengers. Revenue is up 6.4 percent at $19.8 million.
This is Mercedes Alexander’s first round trip on Amtrak. She came up from Charlotte last week to visit her little sister Kiara, a student at North Carolina Central University.
“This is my first time really visiting her. But I think I might be riding the train again to visit again, maybe next month," said Alexander.
Matt Hamann is headed to Charlotte for work and pleasure.
“Well flying would be very expensive, much more expensive than driving or taking the train. Taking the train just kind of lets you sit back and relax and not have to worry about all the construction traffic," said Hamann.
Convenience and ease continue to top the list of reasons why ridership is up, according to Paul Worley, Rail Division Director at NC DOT.
“We’re seeing more older drivers, who would prefer not to drive. And we’re seeing more younger riders that would rather spend their time on electronic devices or working on the train rather than having to drive and navigate through congestion or busy highway," said Worley.
Worley says the department is currently in the thick of construction and improvements, all part of the Piedmont Improvement Program. The program is funded by $520 million from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.