Ruth Little: Freight has precedence?

October 6, 2013 

People take precedence

After an overdue trip on Amtrak’s “Carolinian” train from Raleigh to Washington a few years ago, I despaired of riding the rails again. Last week I ventured onto the 11:45 a.m. “Piedmont” train from Raleigh to Charlotte. The scenic views of textile mills and housing lulled me into believing I had time-traveled back into the 1800s. We arrived three hours later, and I delightedly planned to notify my network of a not-to-be-missed treat.

The 5:15 p.m. return trip was full of business and leisure travelers and students. West of Burlington we were sidetracked for two freight trains and arrived 45 minutes late. The Raleigh station was gridlocked. I intercepted my friend out in the middle of Cabarrus Street and arrived home feeling cheated by Norfolk Southern, which leases the rail line from North Carolina. Its freight trains take precedence over Amtrak’s passenger trains.

Why is freight, with no dinner plans or friends and family waiting for it, more important than passengers with schedules? I cherish train travel and look forward to the new Raleigh Union Station, but the N.C. Railroad needs to take back the right-of-way for the people.

Ruth Little

Raleigh

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