What is the Georgia Rail Passenger
Program (Georgia Rail)?
Rail is a joint program of the Georgia Department of Transportation
(GDOT), the Georgia Rail Passenger
Authority (GRPA) and the Georgia Regional Transportation
Authority (GRTA). The aim of the program
is to revive rail passenger service in Georgia using
to the maximum extent possible existing railroad corridors.
How will the Program be funded?
is proposed that a combination of federal, state and
local funds be used to fund the implementation of the Program.
To date the Atlanta Regional
Commission (ARC) has programmed approximately $114
million in state and federal funds for
rail passenger service. The State Legislature has already
appropriated in excess of $14 million for planning
and to match the federal funds.
What is the estimated cost of the plan?
preliminary estimate for implementing the statewide rail
passenger program is 3.6 billion in 2005 dollars, including
construction of a Multi-Modal Passenger Terminal in downtown
Atlanta and purchase of rolling stock. Estimated
cost of initial service between Lovejoy and Atlanta on the
Macon Line is $106 million and between Cedars Road
and Atlanta on the Athens Line is $311 million.
What is the difference between Commuter Rail
and Intercity Rail?
RailóMiami to West Palm Beach, Chicago, New York, New
Jersey, Northern Virginia, Dallas/Fort Worth,
Los Angeles and even Albuquerqe are examples; many large
urban areas of the country have commuter rail service;
typically serves daily home-to-work trips; traditional
rail passenger cars, more frequently double-deck cars pulled by
a diesel/electric locomotive; generally provides service
between suburbs and central cities; generally no standees;
stops are typically 2 to 10 miles apart; 79 mph
top speed; service generally provided during AM and
PM rush hours, minimal mid-day
and evening service. Less expensive to build at under
$5 million per mile than Intercity rail.
RailóMost major US cities, including Atlanta with the Southern Crescent,
have at least limited intercity rail service.
Typical service frequency depends on ridership
demands; similar equipment to commuter rail; two to
three trains per day between
major cities; functions best with track configuration
that permits travel at a high rate of speed so that
long distances can be covered in a reasonable period of
time; because of travel times, no standees and passenger
seating tends to be more spacious; most variable in
cost depending on extent of use of existing tracks
from cost of buying trainsets
can cost from $5 million per mile up to $100 million
per mile for new corridor construction in tunnel
in an urban area.
How do we implement rail passenger service?
number of actions must take place before rail passenger
service can be implemented, including, at a minimum,
the following: 1) an analysis
of alternatives in each corridor to determine the best
way, all factors considered, to improve mobility.
The alternatives analysis will be followed by an environmental
assessment of the preferred alternative; 2) formal
agreement with the CSX and Norfolk Southern railroads
for use of their tracks if this is determined
to be the preferred alternative;
3) commitment of funding.
studies to determine the needed investment in additional
track capacity are also underway. These studies are
a critical part of the negotiations with CSX and Norfolk
plans for the Multi Modal Passenger Terminal in downtown
Atlanta are being updated as this facility would have
to be built in Phase I.
Has the feasibility of adding
passenger service to existing freight lines been studied?
The feasibility of adding passenger service to freight lines
in Georgia has been studied since the late 80s. GDOT conducted
studies of commuter rail between 1993 and 1995.
Between 1995 and 1997 intercity rail service was studied.
GRPA did substantial
work on a Major Investment Study (MIS) of commuter
rail in the Athens to Atlanta corridor between
1997 and 1998. These studies conclude that, with infrastructure
improvements, it is feasible to add passenger service
in existing railroad corridors as exists in over a dozen U.S.
cities, 7 of them added since 1990. Extensive market
research conducted during these studies indicates that
significant numbers of Georgians would us the
service. Detailed information
on these studies may be obtained by contacting GDOT
at 404-656-5267 or e-mailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
Is there an approved rail passenger
plan for Georgia?
GDOT, GRPA and GRTA have adopted a Rail Passenger Program
for Georgia that includes both commuter rail and
intercity rail service. It will become a part of local and
regional transportation planning. The Plan, which is subject
to amendment from time
to time, provides commuter service from Athens, Senoia,
Madison, Bremen, Gainesville and Canton
to Atlanta. Intercity rail passenger service is recommended
between Atlanta and Griffin, Macon, Albany, Savannah,
Jacksonville, Fla, Augusta, Greenville, SC and Columbus.
Have priorities been established?
The Athens to Atlanta and the Macon to Atlanta corridors
have been designated as Phase I. Alternatives Analysis
in these two corridors has been completed with an Environmental
Assessment finding of no significant impact
for each line. Service may be implemented on each line as
finding becomes available.