APEX, N.C. — Train travel is becoming much more popular in North Carolina.

N.C. by Train, our state’s intercity passenger rail between Raleigh, Charlotte and the northeast, set a new ridership record last year. More than 500,000 passengers used N.C. by Train in 2022.

What You Need To Know

  • Train travel in North Carolina is becoming more popular 

  • Trains used to be the primary form of transportation before cars and planes gained popularity

  • New Hope Valley Railway is part of the N.C. Railway Museum and it shows what train travel used to be like

Amtrack spokesperson Kimberly Woods said the demand for their network is strong around the country.

“This growth in ridership just shows that travelers are flocking back to Amtrak for travel around North Carolina and to other areas,” Woods said. “And customers are ready for more and better railroad service. And we want to make sure we are accommodating that demand for train travel.”

Engineer Chris Tilley drives a locomotive at New Hope Valley Railway. (Jenna Rae Gaertner/Spectrum News 1)

Gov. Roy Cooper said these train services are essential for connecting our North Carolina communities. He wants to continue to invest in public transportation across the state.

Although the popularity of train travel is growing, it used to be the primary mode of transportation. We can get a glimpse of what life was like back then at New Hope Valley Railway, part of the North Carolina Railway Museum.

Many of the volunteers at New Hope Valley Railway are retired, but they’re like kids on Christmas when it comes to trains.

A locomotive drives down the railway at New Hope Valley.(Jenna Rae Gaertner/Spectrum News 1)

“It's like everybody... We got the disease when we were little kids,” railway volunteer Victor Varney said. “And trains are a disease that there's no known cure for. You live with it your whole life. You just have to find a way to survive.”

Travel used to be the most popular form of transportation back in the 1800s. However, passenger traffic dropped off when cars and planes became more popular because everyone wanted to get where they were going faster.

Varney says part of his mission at the railway is to bring back the excitement of train travel.