A high speed rail line could take people from Atlanta to Charlotte in as little as two hours, racing across South Carolina at speeds up to 220 mph, according to the proposal.
Transportation planners are looking at three possible routes across upstate South Carolina for the project, which could cost anywhere from $2 billion to more than $15 billion as part of a broader long-term plan for high speed rail across the Southeast.
The Georgia Department of Transportation is taking comments on the three route options:
- The cheapest route follows Amtrak’s current Crescent route on the Norfolk Southern right-of-way across Upstate South Carolina, with stops in Spartanburg, Greer, Greenville and Clemson. The route would cost $2 billion to $2.3 billion, but the trains would only be able to go 79 to 110 mph. It’s the slowest route and transportation planners say it would bring the fewest passengers of the three options, according to the Charlotte Observer. The route would take 4.5 hours to 5.5 hours to go from Charlotte to Atlanta, about the same as driving, according to an environmental impact study. Planners estimate this route would attract up to 1.2 million riders by 2050.
- The second option, and the most expensive, is to lay new track along Interstate 85, allowing trains to make the trip from Atlanta to Charlotte in less than three hours. The route could cost $13.3 billion to $15.4 billion and trains could travel at 125 mph up to 180 mph. This option has stops in Spartanburg, Greenville and Anderson. This route would attract about 5.5 million riders by 2050, planners say.
- The third option, called the Greenfield route, creates a new corridor and allows the trains to go faster, cutting the time from Charlotte to Atlanta down to two hours. This route has only two stops in South Carolina: Anderson County and at Greenville-Spartanburg International Airport. Planners estimate this route would attract the most riders, estimated at 6.3 million a year by 2050. The price tag on the Greenfield route is $6.2 billion to $8.4 billion.
The Southeast high-speed rail corridor plan, which has been in the works for more than a decade, would connect Atlanta to Washington D.C. The new rail lines would then connect to the Northeast corridor with high speed service to Boston and up to Montreal, according to the Federal Railroad Administration.
You can comment on the high speed route options online through the GDOT until Nov. 4.