• LYNX - Charlotte NC Light Rail (CATS, NS, NCRR)

  • General discussion of passenger rail proposals and systems not otherwise covered in the specific forums in this category, including high speed rail.
General discussion of passenger rail proposals and systems not otherwise covered in the specific forums in this category, including high speed rail.

Moderators: mtuandrew, gprimr1

  by lpetrich
Businesses move to make way for light rail extension - WBTV 3 News, Weather, Sports, and Traffic for Charlotte, NC
CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - Several businesses in the University City area of Charlotte are preparing to relocate so the city can make way for the light rail extension.

The Blue Line extension will go to UNC Charlotte by 2017. Construction will start in the spring. That means businesses in the train's path will have to go elsewhere.
This extension's home page: LYNX Blue Line Extension Northeast Corridor Light Rail Project Description
  by Bob Roberts
Property acquistion for the blue line lrt extension is underway. The construction timeline can be found here: http://charmeck.org/city/charlotte/cats ... ummary.pdf

Scheduled opening is January 2017.

In addition utility relocation is now underway for the 1.5 mile streetcar starter segment from Presbyterian hospital (and the local community college) to the downtown transportation center. I believe that segment will be running with replica trollys sometime in 2015. It looks like the mayor has abandoned his efforts to find cash to extend the streetcar route all the way through downtown by 2015.

EDIT: it now looks like the mayor is now on a short list to replace Ray LaHood http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2013-03-2 ... -post.html
  by Jeff Smith
CATS Extension funded: Progressive Railroading
Charlotte transit agency to receive TIFIA loan for light-rail extension

The U.S. Department of Transportation announced yesterday a $180 million Transportation Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (TIFIA) loan to the Charlotte Area Transit System (CATS) for construction of the Lynx Blue Line light-rail extension.

The loan will support the expansion of the light-rail system between Center City Charlotte and the University of North Carolina Charlotte campus.
  by Bob Roberts
^ to be clear, the TIFA loan was necessary to pay the state's promised contribution to the project on schedule. Our esteemed legislature decided to stretch out the state's $300 million in contributions to decades. I am at a loss to explain why this obstructionist strategy is not a violation of the FFGA for the Blue Line Extension.

That same legislature include a clause in the state budget which was passed yesterday that limited all future state contributions to light rail projects to a maximum of $500,000 total. The state of NC has essentially zeroed out its future contributions to LRT projects. The restriction does not apply to heavy rail projects or BRT. Charlotte does not have any other rail projects that are close to funding requests, but this move threatens the continued existence of the Durham-Orange LRT project.
  by Bob Roberts
NCDOT landed a TIGER VII grant of $25 million for trackwork at Charlotte's Gateway Station (the much needed new Amtrak and (possible) commuter rail station in downtown. Unfortunately Gateway station does not connect to the Blue Line light rail (its a seven block walk), but should be connected to the light rail line by streetcar (small starts grant for that is merely a formality at this point)

http://www.charlotteobserver.com/news/l ... 93496.html" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;
  by SouthernRailway
Spending $150-$200MM for Gateway Station is preposterous.

First, even with multiple new Piedmont trains over the next few years, Charlotte will still see only 12 Amtrak trains per day.

Second, the Lake Norman commuter rail line isn't going to happen; it's been off-and-on for years, and it looks like NS resistance and low ridership are going to make it very difficult to get funded, which is unfortunate.

Third, I took the new Lynx streetcar this weekend. I know that it'll be replacing heavily-used bus lines when it is fully built and should generate good ridership, but for now, even though it's free, ridership is low since the segment of the line that it serves just doesn't have a lot of ridership demand. Combining that plus a $150MM-$200MM station will just give fuel to the anti-transit zealots in Charlotte' suburbs who want to kill everything transit-related.

Charlotte needs a new station, but it should just (1) do trackwork to accommodate 12 trains a day and (2) build a basic station uptown, with as much private-sector participation as possible, within the financial resources that are available.
  by Bob Roberts
The latest CATS quarterly report is out:

The Blue Line extension (downtown to UNC Charlotte) is on schedule for August revenue service. The project is also under budget. Contactless payment cards will be used for fare collection, all UNCC students will have transit passes included in their student fees and fare cards will be integrated into student id cards.

Phase 2 of the Gold Line (the streetcar) has been funded and Siemans hybrid vehicles have been contracted. Projected revenue service is December 2019. The current Gold Line stub service uses Gamco replica vehicles and their reliability has been atrocious, the line is forced to run 30 minute headways as often as its planned 15 minute service.

Planning for the Silver Line (downtown to Matthews) has begun. A preferrd route has been identified with the execption of the downtown portion. It appears that CATS will begin planning the west line (to the airport) in an effort to find the optimal path through downtown for both lines. While I am happy to see some movement of these lines they are a long way off, particularly since funding prospects from the state would be optimistically described as 'hopeless' at the moment.

http://charlottenc.gov/cats/about/Docum ... y%20agenda" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;
  by mtuandrew
Hi Mr. Roberts, what else can you tell us about the Gomaco reliability problems? Some years ago, I was involved with a transit proposal that had recommended their equipment, and I don't want to make bad recommendations in the future.
  by Bob Roberts
CATS has been very tightlipped about the causes of the problems. They have three units which were purchased around 2006 for a no longer operating 'heritage' tram project on the newly opened blue line. Two are intended to be operating on the Gold Line at one time, and CATS sends out tweets when they only have one running vehicle to notify riders of reduced frequency. I see these tweets 3-5 times per week -- and they clearly indicate that two units are out of service. I can't remember exactly when this issue started but it was less than six months after the Gold Line opened (certainly more than a year ago). These problems have not been mentioned in the quarterly reports to the FTA yet and CATS has made no public statements to explain the service shortfall.

I am puzzled why they are unable to find a long term solution, they are certainly not complicated vehicles. Sorry I have nothing more than observational information.
Last edited by Bob Roberts on Sat Dec 24, 2016 2:14 pm, edited 2 times in total.
  by mtuandrew
Thanks for filling us in on what you do know! I bet it has to do with Gomaco's proprietary K35G controller (a modern IGBT solid-state system), since that is the only part that doesn't have a good 120 years of practical usage. Can't be as resistant to low/high voltage as the standard K35 contact controller either.
  by Nasadowsk
Their literature says that it's actually quite tolerant to voltages, since they offer it with a battery hybrid system. Of course, no block diagram anywhere, so who knows what it does...
  by Bob Roberts
The Charlotte Blue Line extension project (extending the current light rail line from downtown to UNC Charlotte about 9.5 miles NE) opening has been delayed to "sometime before March 2018." The original planned open date was August 2017.

CATS has not been forthcoming about reasons for the delay (it was certainly not weather related) but the FTA quarterly report mentions both problems with parking deck construction and difficulties coordinating with Norfolk Southern. Part of the project does involve relocating the NCRR / NS tracks to eliminate a grade crossing at 36th street and this segment of the project does appear to be dragging, however all of the mainline construction is grade separated from the CATS line so I am at a loss to see the relationship to light rail completion. Happily the project continues to be under budget.

It looks clear that the line will open well before March 2018 (that is the FTA deadline for opening), the most recent quarterly report has a revenue service date of November 2017. CATS has said they will update the opening date in May. The delay will cause some substantial revenue loss to CATS, UNC Charlotte has agreed to pay $1 million in student fees per year in exchange for CATS rail and bus passes for each UNC Charlotte student (about 27,000 of them). It appears the university is planning to heavily subsidize passes for faculty and staff once the line is opened as well.
  by lpetrich
LYNX Blue Line Extension has a time-lapse video of a cab ride on the extension. According to their Twitter account @BLEupdates "Wishing you and yours a safe and happy New Year! Happy Holidays from the LYNX Blue Line Extension, coming to you in March!" -- presumably meaning that the extension will open that month.

The CityLYNX Gold Line has an extension under construction: Phase 2. It will extend both northwestward and eastward.

The Silver Line is a planned light-rail line that will extend southeastward. The West Corridor is another planned light-rail line.

The Red Line is a planned northward commuter-rail line. It is steadily advancing through planning.