RALEIGH — North Carolina residents will have more rail travel options when the Amtrak schedule is expanded today to add a pair of midday trains between Raleigh and Charlotte.
A locomotive champagne christening ceremony is scheduled for 11:40 a.m. at the Raleigh Amtrak station, 320 W. Cabarrus St.
Along with southbound trains that now leave Raleigh at 6:50 a.m. and 4:50 p.m., a third train will leave Raleigh for Charlotte every day at 11:50 a.m. The trip takes 3 hours and 12 minutes, with the new train arriving at 3:02 p.m.
The new northbound train will leave Charlotte at 12:30 p.m., with scheduled arrival in Raleigh at 3:43 p.m. It joins the schedule with two other trains that leave Charlotte for Raleigh at 7:30 a.m. and 5:15 p.m.
Each train from Raleigh to Charlotte makes seven stops along the way: at Cary, Durham, Burlington, Greensboro, High Point, Salisbury and Kannapolis.
Gene Conti, the state transportation secretary, said the additional daily round-trip train will give business travelers, students, commuters and other riders more flexibility to arrange their schedules.
"I think it's a great way to go to Charlotte," Conti said Friday. "Or if you have a meeting in Greensboro, you might go there for an hour or two and have the option to come back earlier.
"It just gives people the option of having less time to waste in a particular location and be able to move around more effectively on the train, so I think it's going to be a great addition."
The state Department of Transportation sponsors two Charlotte-to-Raleigh Amtrak Piedmont trains; the third is Amtrak's Carolinian from Charlotte to New York.
Normal one-way fares are $25 from Raleigh to Charlotte and $11 from Raleigh to Greensboro.
DOT is offering a 40 percent discount on tickets used by June 30. Details are available by calling 800-BYTRAIN or online at bytrain.org.
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