Atlanta to Charlotte

Passenger Rail Corridor Investment Plan​​​​

As part of the Atlanta to Charlotte Passenger Rail Corridor Investment Plan (PRCIP), the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) and the Georgia Department of Transportation (GDOT) are conducting a Tier 1 Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for the extension of the Southeast High Speed Rail (SEHSR) corridor from Charlotte, North Carolina to Atlanta, Georgia. The vision of the SEHSR Corridor is to develop an integrated passenger rail transportation solution for the Southeast, including proposed high-speed rail from Washington, DC through Richmond, VA and Charlotte and Raleigh, NC, and from Charlotte to Atlanta, Georgia.


Tier 1 Final Environmental Impact Statement/Record of Decision (FEIS/ROD)

On July 9, 2021, the Tier 1 Final Environmental Impact Statement and Record of Decision (FEIS/ROD) for the Tier 1 Atlanta to Charlotte Passenger Rail Corridor Investment Plan (PRCIP) was published in the Environmental Protection Agency Federal Register. The Federal Railroad Administration and the Georgia DOT worked together with stakeholders in North Carolina and South Carolina to reach this important milestone in the Tier 1 EIS process. In this Tier 1 FEIS/ROD, FRA has identified and selected the Greenfield Corridor Alternative as the Preferred Corridor Alternative based on analysis presented in the Tier 1 DEIS, and input received from the public, stakeholders, agencies during the public meetings and the comment period. 

Following the publication of this Tier 1 FEIS/ROD, the FRA will hold a 30-day waiting period to allow the public, stakeholders, Native American Tribes, coordinating agencies and other interested parties the opportunity to review and provide input on the Preferred Corridor Alternative and the contents of the Tier 1 FEIS/ROD. This will not be a formal review and comment period, and the FRA and GDOT will not respond to individual comments as was required for the Tier 1 DEIS. However, these comments will be considered for any subsequent phases of the Project.


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Tier 1 Draft Environmental Impact Statement

The Tier 1 Draft Environmental Impact Statement (Draft EIS) for the proposed Atlanta to Charlotte Passenger Rail Corridor Investment Plan (the Project) is now available for public review. The Tier 1 DEIS has been published in the federal register as of September 20, 2019. The 45-day public and agency review and comment period occurred between September 20, 2019 and November 4, 2019 and is now closed. The purpose of the Tier 1 Draft EIS is to establish the Project’s Need and Purpose and evaluate the potential environmental impact of three Corridor Alternatives and a No-Build Alterative.

View Draft EIS

Passenger Rail Corridor Investment Plan

The National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) requires federal agencies to assess the environmental effects of their proposed actions prior to making decisions. FRA determined that a tiered NEPA process is appropriate for a project of this scale, as tiering involves a staged environmental review process applied to complex projects covering large geographic areas. This Tier 1 EIS establishes the Purpose and Need for the Project; provides a broad assessment of the potential transportation, social, economic, and environmental impacts of Corridor Alternatives for the Project; and presents the outcomes of public and agency coordination. The Tier 1 EIS also identifies general locations for potential stations; and discusses potential train technology, speed, and frequency necessary to support the Purpose and Need of the Project.

The Tier 1 EIS will consider the potential environmental, economic and social effects of each route alternative. It will also include a conceptual engineering and financial analysis to estimate ridership, cost and revenue for each route alternative. GDOT will use all of this information to select its preferred passenger rail route alternative for the Atlanta to Charlotte corridor.

The Tier 1 EIS will solicit and consider comments about the Atlanta to Charlotte PRCIP from the public and local, state and federal agencies. Preparation of the Tier 1 EIS allows environmental effects to play an important role along with other factors such as feasibility and cost in decisions made about the potential project.

A Service Development Plan (SDP) for the preferred route alternative will include refined Atlanta to Charlotte PRCIP operational characteristics and capital costs, and will outline options for phasing and implementation of the project.

Study Area Map

Study Area Map
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View Route Alternatives

There are three potential route alternatives:

  • Southern Crescent – would mainly follow existing freight rail ROW
  • I-85 – would mainly follow I-85 interstate ROW
  • Greenfield – would be mainly on new dedicated rail ROW

Some of these route alternatives were previously defined as a result in the 2008 Feasibility Study completed by the Volpe Center.


The projected increases in population and economic growth for the Piedmont Atlantic Megaregion create a need for a carefully planned approach to improving rail infrastructure that will benefit Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina, the southeastern United States and the nation.

Intercity passenger rail is available for business and non-business travelers that is competitive with other modes of travel in terms of travel time, convenience and safety. The proposed Atlanta to Charlotte intercity passenger rail service would satisfy the following needs:

  • Provide Regional Linkage Improve overall regional connectivity by providing an intercity passenger rail linkage between Atlanta and Charlotte and other proposed SEHSR locations, as well as enhance multimodal transportation connections;
  • Improve Capacity Supplement Interstate highways and commercial airports to provide increased corridor capacity to support passenger movement;
  • Improve Travel Times Decrease travel times between major urban centers compared to auto and total air travel;
  • Provide an Alternative ModeProvide an alternate choice for travelers to automobile, bus, conventional rail and air travel that is safe, reliable and efficient;
  • Enhance Energy EfficiencyImprove energy efficiency by reducing dependence on foreign oil and decreasing greenhouse gas emissions; and
  • Promote Economic Development Promote economic development and job creation through improved con¬nectivity resulting in a more productive and competi¬tive economy with an expansion of the labor pool market along the corridor.
  • Traveler SafetyPotential to lower the incidence of auto fatalities within the Study Area.


The purpose of the Atlanta to Charlotte PRCIP is to improve intercity travel and mobility between Atlanta and Charlotte by expanding the regions transportation capacity and reliable mode choices through improvements in passenger rail services.

This corridor will also be an important extension to the planned SEHSR Corridor system developing important linkages to other metropolitan areas along the East Coast (Washington, D.C.; New York; and Boston). Investment in passenger rail is an essential part of the regions multimodal transportation system and its ability to support population and economic growth throughout the SEHSR Corridor network.

The figure below outlines the NEPA process for a Tier 1 environmental review.

NEPA Process 

The U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) identified the route from Atlanta to Charlotte as an intercity passenger rail corridor in the proposed Southeast High Speed Rail (SEHSR) network. The USDOT and state departments of transportation have proposed the SEHSR as part of a plan to create a nationwide passenger rail network.

The figure below shows the history of the SEHSR Corridor including the Atlanta to Charlotte portion of the corridor.

Corridor History 


Preferred Corridor Alternative: Greenfield Corridor Alternative

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Please send your questions and comments to the following representatives:

Georgia Department of Transportation
Division of Intermodal
600 West Peachtree Street, NW
Atlanta, GA 30308



NOTE: For media requests please contact mediarequests@dot.ga.gov

Upcoming Meetings

Three Public Open House meetings will be held along the project corridor during the comment period.