S-Line Rail Coming to Wake Forest

I am the chairman of the Wake Forest Chamber Government Affairs Committee and I wanted to share this information on the S-Line coming to Wake Forest and the impact it will have on our community.

On Tuesday, January 9, 2024, the Wake Forest Chamber Government Affairs Committee hosted a delegation from NCDOT, including Rail Division Director Jason Orthner, Brennan Fuqua, interim director of Integrated Mobility Division and NCDOT Division 5 Director Brandon Jones.

The Government Affairs Committee has decided to pass along the information we learned in our meeting with the sole purpose being to educate Chamber members and other citizens of Wake Forest.

The purpose of the meeting was to receive updates on the development of the S-Line from Richmond to Raleigh and the impacts this development will have on the Town of Wake Forest.

The railroad tracks that currently exist in Wake Forest were originally constructed in 1840! Everyone in Wake Forest has heard stories of Wake Forest College students arriving on the train to attend school. The vision for the future rail is far beyond what we have ever seen before.

Mr. Orthner began the meeting presenting the project and its progress. Once completed, the entire corridor will deliver passengers from Washington, DC to Charlotte. It will have direct connections between urban centers estimated to include over 25 million people in 2040.

In addition to providing rail service to Washington, DC faster than it can be driven, this S-Line will also be the backbone of regional multi-modal network connecting Wake Forest with Raleigh and eventually, multiple stops in between.

So far, NCDOT has received grants for over $1.1 billion to help develop the system, including $1.09 billion from a federal/state partnership to construct the line between Raleigh and Wake Forest.

The railroad system will be one of the most advanced in the Southeast. Passenger rail will travel at a rate of up to 110 miles per hour. For that to happen, many improvements will need to be made.

Roadway grade separations will be required. In Wake Forest, these projects include the Rogers Road Bridge over the railroad. This was originally planned to happen in 2020, but due to delays in funding because of the Covid Pandemic, construction has not yet started. The right of way purchases have been made an the surveys are currently being delivered.

Ligon Mill Road will also have a bridge constructed over the railroad and will shift Ligon Mill Road approximately 130 feet south. Once completed, this change will also include a new entrance to the Smith Creek subdivision at Steeple Run Drive.

Holding Avenue will also see a grade separation. There are no current details on exactly how that will be done but it will be a part of the grade separation project.

Crossties will be made of concrete to create a smoother ride and reduce the effect of the trains coming through at higher speeds than the current freight trains through Wake Forest. Current trains travel at a top speed of 20-25 miles per hour. Trains at top speeds of 80 miles per hour will also be lighter providing for less impact on the surrounding environment before slowing down to enter local train stations.

High speed switches will be installed along with separate freight bypass tracks to allow multiple trains to use the same track. Also, freight trains are constructed differently from passenger trains and cannot fit into a train station the way a passenger train does. Therefore, the freight trains will have to have a separate track around the train station to bypass it.

Finally, the train stations will be constructed with high level platforms. If you have ever ridden a train to other metro areas, you have seen the platforms elevated to accommodate the passenger train. That will be done in a similar way here at the station in Wake Forest so that passengers have a smooth entry onto the passenger cars of the train.

People that have moved to Wake Forest in the last 30 years don’t know there used to be an Amtrak Train that came through Wake Forest at 50-60 miles per hour. As trains come into and out of the proposed station near Downtown Wake Forest, they would not be at full speed with the new S-Line in that area.

It is important with rail to keep in mind where time is saved during travel. People think time is saved because the train is traveling at a speed of 90-110 miles per hour at top speed. In actuality, the most time is saved as the train decelerates to enter a station, allows passenger unloading and loading, and then accelerates out of the station. The faster the stops can take place, the more efficiently the train runs. For you NASCAR fans, it is like a pit stop, the faster the better.

What does the future look like?

When the system is completed, Raleigh’s Union Station will be the center of the North Carolina rail system. The current timeline is for this to be completed by 2030.

Eventually the system will allow riders from Wake Forest to not only go to Washington, DC as quickly as one could drive there, but also go to Charlotte with multiple stops along the way in central North Carolina.

The ride to Richmond and Washington, DC will go through Youngsville, Henderson and north through the Virginia countryside.

Other plans are to have the ability to go from Salisbury to Asheville, Raleigh to Wilmington, Charlotte to Kings Mountain, Raleigh to Fayetteville, Raleigh to Winston-Salem and Charlott to Atlanta. In other words, the entire mid Atlantic region of the east coast will be within reach by high-speed train.

What is the timeline for construction?

Currently, surveys for many sections of the project are being completed. When completed, consultants to NCDOT are ready to design the track and depots.

Right of Way acquisitions and moving of some utilities in the path of the tracks will take place in the next two years.

Some elements will break ground in Spring of 2024, with most of those being in the Raleigh area.

Again, the anticipated completion date for the Raleigh to Wake Forest section is 2030.

To learn more about the project and to stay up to date on progress, visit the NCDOT S-Line Raleigh to Richmond Project page at https://www.ncdot.gov/divisions/integrated-mobility/innovation/s-line-study/Pages/default.aspx

3 thoughts on “S-Line Rail Coming to Wake Forest

  1. What is going to happen to the homes right in front of the railroad tracks in the Porto Fino subdivision — homes at around 9713 San Remo Place?

    1. I am not sure of the affect on any specific home at this time. As the plan continues to develop, there will be public meetings to see how the project will affect specific pieces of property. Sorry I’m not more help at the moment.

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