The state Board of Transportation approved Friday spending $230,000 to buy five used railroad cars for a second passenger train between Raleigh and Charlotte.
The second train, which will be owned by the state, but operated by Amtrak, would be added to the Carolinian route, which resumed service in May after a five-year hiatus.The Governor's Task Force on Rail Service recommended that five passenger cars be purchased from a Chicago railroad and refurbished.
``We will be preparing our specifications for the refurbishing, which we estimate will cost about $1.8 million,' said David King, director of public transportation. He said the second train is expected to begin service in early 1992.
The rail task force decided to look for used cars after getting estimates of about $1.1 million each for new cars.
King said the state-owned cars would be pulled by two leased locomotives, which are expected to cost about $225,000 a year.
Operating costs for the second train are expected to run about $1.7 million a year. The state already pays about $1.4 million a year for the Carolinian.
The Carolinian averaged about 380 riders a day on its route between Rocky Mount and Charlotte during the summer, King said.
The number of riders decreased in September and October, will pick up for the holidays and will pick up again in the spring, he said.
``Summer is the high season,' King said. ``During the summer, we had some days when we had to turn people away.'
The Carolinian averaged about 60 percent of capacity during the summer, he said.
The Carolinian offers one departure from Charlotte in the morning and one from Raleigh in the evening. That means travelers can leave Charlotte for Raleigh in the morning and return to Charlotte at night, but Raleigh travelers going toward Charlotte have to stay overnight to catch the train back the next morning.
The second train will provide one-day service both ways. It will run only from Raleigh to Charlotte and will not include stops at Rocky Mount, Wilson or Selma like the Carolinian.
King told the transportation board the state also is negotiating with town officials in the Piedmont to raise the speed limit for trains so that the trip from Raleigh to Charlotte can be cut from three hours and 55 minutes to three hours and 25 minutes.