A high speed rail line connecting Raleigh to Richmond is $1 billion closer to becoming a reality with a new grant from the U.S. Department of Transportation. 

What You Need To Know

  •  The U.S. DOT will give $1 billion to help build the new Raleigh to Richmond high speed rail line

  •  The project to connect the cities has been in the works for more than 20 years

  •  The new passenger rail service would cut down on travel time and help link North Carolina to Washington, D.C., and points north

  •  Amtrak and N.C. DOT will match the federal grant with 20% more funding

The S-Line project has been in the works for years. The new train line will connect the Virginia and North Carolina capitals as part of a bigger vision to improve rail service in the Southeast. 

The S-Line project aims to connect Raleigh to Richmond with a new high speed rail line. (NCDOT)

“This $1 billion grant for North Carolina to make progress on the Raleigh to Richmond Rail Line is a big win for economic development in the region,” Senator Thom Tillis said in a statement Tuesday.

“I’m proud this investment was made possible by the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law that I helped negotiate, write, and pass into law,” he said. Tillis thanked Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg for committing the money to the project. 

The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, passed in 2021, is one of the Biden administration's early major achievements. 

The 162-mile route from Raleigh to Richmond is intended to cut down on the travel time for existing service and connect North Carolina to Washington, D.C., and the Northeast Corridor. State and federal officials have been working on the new route for more than 20 years. 

The new route will also add rail service to Wake Forest, Henderson and Norlina, North Carolina. The current passenger rail service to Richmond goes from Raleigh, east to Johnston County, and up through Rocky Mount. 

The current Amtrak train from Raleigh to Richmond maxes out at about 80 mph. North Carolina transit officials say the new rail line will be able to hit 110 mph or faster. 

The broader plan includes another section of high speed rail to run from Charlotte to Atlanta, with service eventually extending south to Miami.

An official announcement of the grant is expected Friday, which could include more specifics on what the money will be used for. 

Tillis said Amtrak and the North Carolina Department of Transportation will kick in a 20% match for the federal grant. About half of the federal funding will come in the current federal fiscal year, with the rest coming between 2024 and 2026, he said.

On Tuesday the U.S. Department of Transportation also announced a $3 billion grant for a high speed rail line, linking Los Angeles and Las Vegas.