The federal grant should also boost economic activity in the years to come.
Gov. Perdue said that while rail improvements are exciting, the real value will come from economic development opportunities.
“It’s not just about moving people from Raleigh to Charlotte faster,” she said. “It’s about putting people back to work.”
The grant was triggered by an agreement with Norfolk Southern Railway Co., Amtrak and N.C. Railroad Co. that allows construction to begin on the state’s rail modernization program.
The agreement, approved by the Federal Railroad Administration, triggers release of $461 million in 100 percent federal funds from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act that will pay for upgrades to tracks between Raleigh and Charlotte, bridges and crossing safety improvements, station expansions in four cities along that path and construction of a maintenance facility in Charlotte.
The funding also will enable North Carolina to improve the speed and reliability of passenger service, add a fourth daily round trip between Charlotte and Raleigh in coming years and refurbish locomotives and rail cars.