"The Triangle commuter rail project would:
-Run up to 43 miles along North Carolina Railroad Company corridor.
-Connect West Durham to Garner or Clayton.
-Stop at downtown Raleigh, N.C. State, Cary, Morrisville, Research Triangle Park and downtown Durham
-Carry an estimated 7,500 to 10,000 passengers a day.
-Return $5 billion in GDP and 50,000 jobs over 20 years for every $1 billion invested, according to APTA."
I think this is a critical need for the future of the Triangle. There is a limit to how much can be done to move traffic on I-40, both in terms of space and cost. Regional rail would give commuters an option not available today, and would support a much denser development pattern - both housing and jobs - near the proposed stations. With 600,000 people expected to move to the Triangle over the next 20 years, - including 90,000 to Durham - we can't keep spreading out.
As we saw with light rail, success of the project will depend on cooperation from the NC Railroad, Norfolk Southern, and CSX, and money from state and federal governments. Using the NC Railroad corridor should take interference from Duke out of the mix this time.
I think this has a much better chance of actually happening since the right of way and rails is owned by the NCRR.
Amtrak is planning (assuming it gets the funding) to "enhance" the line between Raleigh and Charlotte, which would include this portion from Raleigh to Durham. That should be helpful for this project (though it will be competing for track space with more Amtrak trains as well).
Regular rush hour trains between these big destinations will be very convenient. Hopefully this gets done!