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Project Overview

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 to relevant freight and passenger railroads. West Virginia and Alabama are also following the progress of the study, given their proximity to the region. Other audiences and interested parties, such as business and community groups, will also be engaged throughout the process.

During the initial Phase I of the study, FRA received input from the Stakeholder Group through webinars and five in-person workshops held across the region between fall 2016 and fall 2017. The Phase I effort 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.

A second phase of the study (Phase II) was launched in fall 2019 to incorporate improvements to the CONNECT model (which serves as the analytical foundation of for FRA-led 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 presentation shared during this webinar is available on the Past Meetings page. The project team anticipates presenting the improvements to the CONNECT model and updated draft conceptual passenger rail network at the Southeast Rail Forum. The study is expected to be completed by fall 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.