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Home > Blog > Exhibit Train Blog, 2011-2012 > Raleigh, N.C., March 10 and 11

Raleigh, N.C., March 10 and 11

Posted by admin at Mar 15, 2012 01:15 PM |
North Carolina’s busiest station lived up to its reputation as it welcomed almost 3,000 visitors to the Exhibit Train.
NCDOT Train Hosts generously volunteered
The Exhibit Train parked beside the Raleigh platform, downtown peeking over the rails
Perusing one of the 1980s marketing materials displays onboard

NCDOT Train Hosts generously volunteered. Photo courtesy of NCDOT

The Exhibit Train parked beside the Raleigh platform, downtown peeking over the rails. Photo courtesy of NCDOT

Perusing one of the 1980s marketing materials displays onboard. Photo courtesy of NCDOT

Raleigh's volunteers in the onboard gift store
Enthusiasts of all ages came to see us in Raleigh
Engineer Dan Russell, Mary Russell, and Engineer and 40th Anniversary team member Steve Ostrowski pose on the Raleigh platform

Raleigh's volunteers in the onboard gift store. Photo courtesy of NCDOT

Enthusiasts of all ages came to see us in Raleigh. Photo courtesy of NCDOT

Volunteers Timmy Nemeyer, Mary Russell and 40th Anniversary team member Steve Ostrowski pose on the Raleigh platform. Photo courtesy of NCDOT

Located a few blocks west of bustling Fayetteville Street—the heart of Raleigh’s historic, revitalized downtown—the Cabarrus Street station was animated throughout the weekend as visitors to the Exhibit Train mingled with passengers in the waiting room and along the platform. Luckily, the weather was warm and sunny, and the train proved a perfect backdrop for photos. The station is also a popular spot for rail fans, as it sits on the southeastern end of the famous Boylan Wye, a set of interlockings, junctions, and crossings that dates back to the late 19th century. Tracks in the area, which support freight and passenger service, fall under the ownership of the North Carolina Railroad, CSX, and Norfolk Southern. The last two companies also own rail yards to the north.

Since the 1980s, the state of North Carolina has invested in intercity passenger rail service to provide residents with increased travel options. The state owns the Piedmont Service, which makes two daily roundtrips between Raleigh and Charlotte, and supports the Carolinian, a daily train between New York City and Charlotte. As part of efforts to promote passenger rail and intermodal travel, as well as revitalize town centers, the North Carolina Department of Transportation (NCDOT) has funded the rehabilitation or construction of train stations in numerous communities. In one of the display cases aboard the Exhibit Train, you can view keepsakes that were handed out at some of the ribbon-cutting ceremonies, including buttons and wooden whistles with station logos.

Another NCDOT innovation was the creation of a Train Host program aboard the Piedmonts and Carolinian. More than 100 volunteers act as goodwill ambassadors by assisting passengers, answering questions about train service, and providing advice about local towns and attractions. A dozen smartly dressed Train Hosts generously gave their time over the weekend to help us welcome visitors to the Exhibit Train; from their positive demeanor, it was obvious that they take great pride in their work and in promoting train travel. Amtrak staff was also assisted by members of the North Raleigh Model Railroad Club, which maintains an N-scale layout and participates in shows and expositions throughout the region.

Inside the station, people could explore displays set up by the NCDOT Rail Division, the National Association of Railroad Passengers, and North Carolina Operation Lifesaver. This last group strives to educate the public about the safest ways to interact with trains and railroad infrastructure—such as the at-grade crossing of W. Cabarrus Street and the tracks south of the station. Volunteers make presentations to school and community groups at no cost and provide informative brochures and child-friendly teaching material.

As usual, the Chuggington play tables were busy as little hands guided Wilson, Koko, Brewster and friends around town, through the carwash, and into the roundhouse before embarking once again for new adventures—usually at Vee’s instruction. At this point in the Exhibit Train tour, I think all of the Chuggington locomotives have put in thousands of miles of dedicated service!

Well, as they say, the railroad never stops. This week we head west where we’ll be in good company amid the displays of the North Carolina Transportation Museum in Spencer. Those coming by train can catch a shuttle from the nearby Amtrak station in Salisbury.