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About Southeast Rail Plan

A brief overview of the project.

Railroad by a Country Road

Railway running by road

The Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) embarked on an effort to develop a long-term, regional passenger rail vision for the Southeast region. This Regional Rail Plan explores the potential for high-performance rail and creates a long-term vision for intercity connections over the next 40 years. The study builds on the already established Southeast High-Speed Rail Corridor between the District of Columbia, Virginia, Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, and North Carolina, on-going state planning efforts, and other activities in the region.

To help develop this Plan, FRA organized a Stakeholder Group, which includes stakeholders from Florida, Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia, and the District of Columbia. In addition, West Virginia and Alabama also followed the progress of the study, given their proximity to the region.  Other audiences and interested parties, such as relevant freight and passenger railroads as well as business and community groups, were engaged throughout the process.

During the first phase of the study’s development, FRA received input from the Stakeholder Group and evaluated potential markets, corridors, ridership, and costs as well as governance and/or institutional options that will ultimately feed into the creation of the Southeast Regional Plan. The Stakeholder Group participated in five workshops held across the region between fall 2016 and fall 2017.

A second phase of the study was launched in fall 2019 to incorporate improvements to the CONNECT model (which serves as the analytical foundation of these types of FRA regional passenger rail planning studies) to reflect more consistent information for demand forecasting. A webinar addressing these changes was held for the Stakeholder Group in early spring 2020. The study was completed in December 2020.

Why a Regional Approach?

Developing rail plans in the context of a broader regional, multi-state framework can yield significant benefits, including:

  • Promoting cost-effective investments that are responsive to the economically interdependent market needs of communities across a region;
  • Sharing and reducing capital and operations costs while increasing ridership through network effects;
  • Facilitating the integration of rail projects with the planning and programming requirements of other transportation modes;
  • Addressing multi-state governance issues;
  • Promoting greater involvement by stakeholders; and,
  • Identifying priorities for limited federal funding.