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What is Commuter Rail?
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tracks in corneliusCommuter rail transit is proposed for the North Corridor. As the Charlotte region considered opportunities to improve the transit system, commuter rail and light rail were both analyzed.  The differences in the two modes of transit are often misunderstood and thought interchangeable.  In general, light rail travelers move "within" the line for work, shopping, restaurants, and business.  The stations are also located within a mile of each other.  Commuter rail travelers generally travel from outlying areas to the center city for work and stations are located 2-5 miles apart. 

A few points about commuter rail:

  • Generally defined as passenger train service that operates on existing freight railroad tracks 
  • "Amtrak-like" trains, either with coaches pulled by a locomotive or motorized coaches called diesel multiple units or DMUs
  • Can also accommodate reverse commuters (passengers traveling to suburban areas for work) and other travel times, such as midday, evening and weekend hours
  • Most commuter rail systems are integrated with other transit services, such as bus systems, to encourage transfers throughout the region

For examples of commuter rail transit in other cities, visit the following websites:

Altamont Commuter Express (ACE)
  
Chicago METRA

San Diego COASTER

Sounder
  
Virginia Railway Express (VRE)