Carolinian (train) Article

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Carolinian High Point.jpg
Northbound Carolinian pulling in to High Point.
Service type Inter-city rail
Locale Northeastern United States/ Southern United States
First serviceMay 12, 1990
Current operator(s) Amtrak in partnership with the
North Carolina Department of Transportation
Ridership870 (FY13 daily avg.)
Annual ridership317,550 (FY13) [1]
Start New York Penn Station
End Charlotte (Amtrak station)
Distance travelled704 miles (1,133 km)
Service frequencyDaily
Train number(s)79/80
Rolling stock Amfleet cars
Track gauge4 ft 8 12 in (1,435 mm) standard gauge
Track owner(s) Amtrak, CSX, Norfolk Southern/ NCRR

The Carolinian is a daily passenger train that runs between Charlotte, North Carolina and New York City. The train began operation in 1990 and is jointly funded and operated by Amtrak and the North Carolina Department of Transportation. A previous iteration operated between 1984-1985. Onboard services include coach, business class, and a cafe car. The train operates over the Northeast Corridor between New York and Washington, D.C. Intermediate stops in North Carolina include Rocky Mount, Wilson, Selma, Raleigh, Cary, Durham, Burlington, Greensboro, High Point, Salisbury, and Kannapolis.

During fiscal year 2013, the Carolinian carried over 317,550 passengers, a 3.6% increase over FY2012 (306,419 passengers) [1] and a 3.4% increase over FY2011 (307,213 passengers). [2] The line had a total revenue of $19,841,847 during FY2013, an increase of 6.4% over FY2012. [1]

This route (in addition to its sister train, the Piedmont) is notable because it allows walk-up checked bicycle transportation at its station stops in North Carolina. [3]


The Carolinian departing Raleigh Amtrak station

Amtrak first introduced the Carolinian on October 28, 1984, in partnership with the state of North Carolina. It was originally a section of the Palmetto, which ran between New York and Savannah, Georgia. It ran from Charlotte to Raleigh, where it stopped at the old Seaboard Air Line Railroad station. From there, it ran to Henderson to Collier Yard south of Petersburg, Virginia. At Richmond, Virginia, the Carolinian joined the Palmetto for the journey to New York. North Carolina supported the Carolinian with a $436,000 yearly subsidy. It was the first direct Raleigh—Charlotte service in 30 years and the first North Carolina-specific service in 20 years. An early alternative name for the service was the Piedmont Palmetto. [4] [5] Amtrak discontinued the Carolinian on September 3, 1985, after North Carolina declined to renew its support for another year. Although ridership was higher than projected, revenues were not: most passengers traveled within North Carolina and did not continue to the Northeast. Supporters of the Carolinian blamed Amtrak and the state for not marketing the train properly. [6] [7]

Amtrak and North Carolina re-launched the Carolinian on May 12, 1990. Like the original, it was originally a section of the Palmetto', only this time the split occurred in Rocky Mount, North Carolina, south of Richmond. [8] In April 1991 Amtrak made the Carolinian a full-fledged day train running intact to New York along the Northeast Corridor. [9] While the Palmetto runs through from Richmond to Alexandria, Virginia; the Carolinian stops at Fredericksburg and Quantico before continuing on to Alexandria.

In 1995, the Carolinian was joined with a sister train, the Piedmont, a regional service which runs on the same route of this train between Raleigh and Charlotte. Until 2004, the Carolinian also had a stop at BWI Marshall Airport Rail Station.

In 2017, NCDOT began considering an extension of the Carolinian to New Haven, Connecticut. The extension would reduce or eliminate the need for NCDOT to fund the train and would provide an earlier southbound train from New Haven than currently operates. [10]

Accidents and incidents

On March 9, 2015, a north bound Carolinian collided with a tractor-trailer that was stuck on the tracks in Halifax County, North Carolina, with 55 people injured. [11] [12]

Route details

The Carolinian operates over Amtrak, CSX Transportation, Norfolk Southern Railway, and North Carolina Railroad trackage:

The duration of the journey is around 13 hours 30 minutes. In its current form, the northbound Carolinian leaves Charlotte at breakfast time, arriving in Raleigh just after rush hour, passing through Virginia in the afternoon before arriving in Washington just before the afternoon rush, in Philadelphia at dinner time and New York in mid-evening. Southbound trains leave New York at breakfast time, reaching Richmond at lunchtime before arriving at rush hour in Raleigh and mid-evening in Charlotte.


The Carolinian typically operates with 4 Amfleet I coaches, an Amfleet café, an Amfleet business class car, and a Viewliner baggage car. Motive power is provided by a GE P42DC diesel locomotive south of Washington, D.C.. Service between Washington and New York is handled by a Siemens ACS-64 electric locomotive. Maximum seating in such a configuration is 346, split between business class and reserved coach. [13]


  1. ^ a b c "Amtrak Sets Ridership Record And Moves The Nation's Economy Forward - America's Railroad helps communities grow and prosper" (PDF) (Press release). Amtrak. October 14, 2013. Retrieved 2014-09-03.
  2. ^ "Amtrak Ridership Rolls Up Best-Ever Records" (PDF). Amtrak. October 13, 2011. Retrieved 2012-02-07.
  3. ^ "Walk-Up Checked Bike Service on the Carolinian Train | Amtrak". Retrieved 2016-03-10.
  4. ^ Foreman, Jr., Tom (October 27, 1984). "'Carolinian' makes trial run". Times-News. Retrieved 2011-07-04.
  5. ^ "Raleigh-Charlotte run shouldn't businessmen". The Robesonian. October 9, 1984. Retrieved 2011-07-04.
  6. ^ Waggoner, Martha (September 3, 1985). "The 'Carolinian' Makes Its Last Run". The Dispatch. Retrieved 2010-04-04.
  7. ^ Flesher, John (August 13, 1985). "Amtrak talks about scraping Charlotte-to-Raleigh service". Times-News. Retrieved 2010-04-04.
  8. ^ "Charlotte-Rocky Mount train back on track". Morning Star. May 12, 1990. Retrieved 2010-04-04.
  9. ^ "Change to cut Carolinian's run by 40 minutes". The Charlotte Observer. March 15, 1991. Retrieved 2010-04-04.
  10. ^ "Rail Division" (PDF). North Carolina Department of Transportation. March 22, 2017. p. 9.
  11. ^ Cho, Diane (March 9, 2015). "Amtrak train en route to D.C. slams into truck in North Carolina; 40 hurt". WJLA-TV ABC7. Sinclair Broadcast Group. Associated Press. Retrieved 2015-09-18.
  12. ^ "Dozens of Amtrak passengers injured as train smashes into truck that had stalled on North Carolina tracks and flips over". Daily Mail. Associated Press. March 9, 2015. Retrieved 2015-09-18.
  13. ^ "National Railroad Passenger Corporation and the State of North Carolina: Agreement for the Provision of Carolinian and Piedmont Rail Passenger Services" (PDF). October 1, 2008. Retrieved 2013-07-07.

External links