The study covers the approximately 162-mile rail corridor from Raleigh to Richmond and is a critical segment of the federally designated Southeast Corridor. The overall Washington, D.C., to Charlotte, N.C., Southeast Corridor route was selected by a 2002 Tier I study, which also established the purpose and need for the project as well as the vision for passenger rail service on the corridor. Connecting Raleigh and Richmond on the Corridor would improve safety, mobility and connectivity for rail passengers and freight in the Southeastern United States and provide alternatives to highway congestion on I-85 and I-95.
FRA is the lead Federal agency for the preparation of the EIS and FRA's State partners are the North Carolina Department of Transportation and Virginia Department of Rail and Public Transportation. In May 2003, FRA published in the Federal Register a Notice of Intent (NOI) to prepare an EIS from Raleigh, NC to Petersburg, VA, and then three years published an additional NOI extending the northern terminus for the project to Richmond, VA. In May 2010, FRA signed the Draft EIS and made it available for public review and comment. In September 2015, FRA signed the Final EIS.
The EIS evaluated three alignment alternatives, generally following the partially abandoned CSX Transportation S–Line and U.S. Route 1 corridor between Richmond and Raleigh. For most sections of the corridor, two or three of the alternatives are on a common alignment. For approximately 60% of the route, the Preferred Alternative follows either existing rail lines (primarily the active CSX S and A–Lines) or abandoned lines where the right-of-way still exists. In several locations, the third alternative provides an avoidance alternative in areas with potential impacts to historic resources.
On March 24, 2017, the FRA signed the Record of Decision.
In addition, pertinent information can be found at the project's FRA webpage, https://www.fra.dot.gov/Page/P0482.