Passenger rail service gains support in Morganton

BURKE COUNTY, N.C. — A proposal to return passenger train service to western North Carolina is gaining support.

A grassroots organization in Morganton nicknamed “Waiting for the Train” has been trying to return rail service to Burke County for the last year.

Channel 9′s Dave Faherty spoke with state senators who are now getting behind the idea.

One of those senators is Warren Daniel, who recently sent a letter stating that the train service between Salisbury and Asheville “must remain the #1 passenger rail priority for North Carolina.”

Organizers with “Waiting for the Train” expressed strong support for the Amtrak service that would connect Salisbury to Asheville with a stop at the depot in Morganton.

“This is gonna happen. The corridor between Salisbury and Asheville is going to come, and we’re going to have a stop in Morganton,” said organizer Mimi Phifer.

The organization even made its own t-shirts and said it has nearly 400 members in Burke County and elsewhere. They said they hope to bring commuter service three times a day through western North Carolina.

Within the last year, the western line picked up steam when the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act bill allocated federal money to Amtrak, and that money was included in the passenger train company’s plans.

“I’ve met a number of people here who can’t drive or are unable to drive for health and age reasons, and it gives them another option,” said organizer Barbara Lynam.

Daniel said he also believes service to Asheville will attract more tourism and believes service here will happen in the next five to seven years.

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