Football, Ferris wheels, fall foliage, food festivals, fast cars, and family fun. State transportation officials say they have just the ticket for folks looking for an enjoyable and inexpensive getaway to one of North Carolina’s unique autumn activities.
Take the train.
Regular daily train service and some special train stop across the heartland will help people avoid traffic and congestion and enjoy some of those festivities even more.
“These special stops provide an excellent opportunity to discover train travel in North Carolina and enjoy some of our state’s exciting events,” said Patrick Simmons, Director of the NCDOT Rail Division. “It’s also a great way to relax and avoid some of the traffic.”
For Carolina Panther fans, the regular Piedmont schedule provides a relaxing way to get to the home games in Charlotte. Football fans in the Triangle and Triad areas can catch the morning westbound Piedmont to Charlotte with plenty of tailgate time before those 1:00 p.m. kickoffs. The afternoon train departs the Queen City at 5:40 p.m. Passengers can take advantage of taxis and Charlotte Area Transit (CATS) buses for transportation from the train station to the uptown.
Train fans of all ages can revel in railroading by taking the train to go see Thomas the Tank Engine™. The popular children’s character will be at N.C. Transportation Museum in Spencer October 3rd-5th and 10th -12th. Passengers can take either the daily Piedmont or Carolinian to Salisbury. Both trains arrive mid-morning and depart in the evening. Salisbury Transit will provide transportation to and from the train station to the museum in Spencer.
In addition to the daily services that operate between Raleigh and Charlotte, the trains will make special stops on some days to accommodate festivals and fair-goers.
State fair-goers west of the Triangle can take the Carolinian directly to N.C. State Fairgrounds. Several thousand people have taken advantage of this special stop during the past 13 years of operation. From October 17-26, the train will arrive at the State Fair at 11:41 a.m. and depart at 4:42 p.m., stopping at the Blue Ridge Road crossing located directly across from the fairgrounds. State Fair admission tickets will be available for purchase onboard the train, while en route from Greensboro to Raleigh, to help passengers avoid lines at the entrance gates.
North Carolina barbecue lovers will be in hog heaven Saturday, October 25th because they can take either Piedmont or the Carolinian to Lexington for the city’s annual barbecue festival. Both trains will make special stops just a few blocks from the festival, so passengers can take the train for a one-day excursion to enjoy the great food, entertainment, and activities in uptown Lexington that attract hundreds of thousands of people annually. The northbound Carolinian is scheduled to arrive in Lexington at 9:11 a.m.; the southbound train will depart at 7:01 p.m. Southbound Piedmont will arrive at 9:38 a.m.; the northbound train will depart at 6:42 p.m.
NASCAR enthusiasts will want to take advantage of Amtrak’s special, non-stop Rockingham Race train from the Triangle to Rockingham for the November 9th race. The charter train departs Raleigh at 8:00 a.m. and stops in Cary at 8:15 before traveling straight to the race. The return train departs one hour after the race. Ticket options include travel only or complete race-day activities. For reservations or more information, call Amtrak or the Rockingham Speedway at 800-748-7467.
Piedmont (trains 73, 74) and Carolinian (trains 79, 80) services are sponsored by the state and jointly paid for through Amtrak, state funding, and passenger fares.
Due to the popularity of these events, reservations are required. For more information about any of the events, visit www.bytrain.org or call Amtrak at 1-800-BY TRAIN. Information and tickets are also available at staffed Amtrak stations.