RAILFAN GUIDES of the U.S.

Todd's Railfan Guide to
Charlotte NC’s LYNX BLUE LINE
LIGHT RAIL SYSTEM

Introduction
Map
the Charlotte Trolley
S
ignals
Pix of Electrical, Catenary, etc
Signs, Etc
Light Rail pix
Station by Station
the Shops

RAILFAN GUIDES HOME
RAILROAD SIGNALS HOME


Introduction

Charlotte’s Light Rail System is one of the newest systems around, having opened for business on Saturday, November 24, 2007, and costing roughly 462 million bucks.  Construction started in February 2005.  The line parallels mostly South Blvd till it hits the Village Shopping Center, then follows Old Pineville Rd for a while till it joins back up with South Blvd at Arrowood near the south end.  The shops are on the west side of the mainline just above Clanton Rd, are the entrance to them is clearly visible from South Blvd because of the towering structure built over the mainline.  Some of the R-O-W was built on abandoned Norfolk Southern trackage, and some runs parallel to existing NS operations.

Happily, the designers and the city of Charlotte felt the existing trolley system was worth incorporating into the design.

The LYNX LRV's consist of sixteen articulated Avanto cars built by Siemens. This is the same model used in Houston TX, and Portland OR has ordered them.  They are nice looking cars.

The Blue Line is 9.6 miles long, and runs from the downtown area, south to a station just before Interstate 485.  There are 15 stations, and another four just for the Trolley: Atherton Mill, Tremont, Morehead, and 9th St, although 9th Street is on the route for an extension.  Seven (7) of the stations have “Park n Ride” parking available.  The station label “CTC” is the Charlotte Transportation Center.

The only fare accepted ONBOARD the light rail trains are tickets issues by the TVM’s, or a valid bus transfer.  Bus transfers are good for 90 minutes from the time they were issued.  Tickets and transfers need to be time and date stamped, otherwise they are not valid and you are subject to a $50 fine.  TVM’s (Ticket Vending Machines) are only located at the regular light rail stops… there are no TVM’s at the four Trolley stops.  Tickets purchased at a LYNX TVM may be used on the Trolley.  As with the Trolley, ten-day passes, yellow and red tickets are not valid on the light rail.

        

Trains operate from 05:00, till 01:00, seven days a week (gee, even in Baltimore they stop at 9pm on Sundays unless something is going on!).  Trains run on a 15 minute headway during the non-rush weekday hours, 7 ˝ minutes during rush hour.  After the rush hour, in the evening, trains run on a 30 minute schedule.  During the weekends, trains run every 20 minutes, and every 30 minutes later in the evening (the website doesn’t state when the switchover takes effect, so you need to check the schedules).

Expansions by 2030 include: 1) an 11 mile expansion to the Blue Line going north/northeast, 2) A proposed 30 mile commuter rail (Purple) line going north along a Norfolk Southern R-O-W, and may include 12 stations,  and 3) a 13.5 mile Silver Line heading southeast from CBD, ending on the Central Piedmont Community College Levine campus, and 4) a 6.4 mile westerly expansion from Trade St to the employee parking lot at the airport, using streetcars, possibly modeled after the Portland Streetcar, judging from the picture they have on their website. 

For more info and pictures, check out these resources:
     http://web.presby.edu/~jtbell/transit/Charlotte/LightRail/  Great pictures by Dr. Jon Bell of the Presbyterian College, Clinton SC


Map

The map in PDF format is here


the Charlotte Trolley

The Charlotte Trolley only runs on Saturdays (10:00 – 17:00) and Sundays (10:30 – 17:30).  A one-way fare is $1.50, double that for round trip, and an all day pass for unlimited rides is $4.50.  Senior and kiddy rate is $0.75 / $1.50, with no discount on their website for an all day pass.  A weekly pass with unlimited rides is $15.  CATS weekly or monthly passes are good on the Trolley, however, ten-ride passes, STS yellow tickets, and ADA red tickets ARE NOT valid on the Trolley.  Bus transfers are also good on the Trolley, providing the time has not expired – they are only good for 90 minutes from the time of issue.   You may pay with cash on the Trolleys, but bring exact change, as the operator can not make change.  Your fare paid on the Trolley is also good on busses or the light rail, just ask for a transfer, remembering that they expire 90 minutes after issuing.  Charlotte Trolley tokens are not any good anywhere else except for the Trolley.  For a schedule, go to: www.ridetransit.org

 

 

 

The Heritage Trolley started running on Monday, June 28th, 2004, ending a hiatus in trolley service that began in 1938.  Before the light rail system came along, there were 10 stations along a 2.1 mile route.  The cars originally did not have a powered trolley wire, so they utilized a pull behind power car!  More info here: http://www.lightrailnow.org/news/n_cha002.htm

The Charlotte Trolley Museum is on Camden Road, near the intersection with South Tyrone St.  It is also conveniently located adjacent to the Bland Station.

       


Signals

All of the signals on the Lynx line are made by US&S, and are LED colorlight signals.  I only had an hour to shoot what I could, so this is all I got in my short visit... Thanx to my wife for her patience in this endeavor.  I'm not sure if they have high signals outside of the downtown area, as bright as these dwarf signals are tho, I don't know if they need high signals..

Signals come in basically two varieties: two and three aspect.  Three aspect signals are only used where a diverging move can be made, where a yellow would be displayed if the turnouts were set for a diverging move, whether it be into the yard, or crossing over from one mainline to the other.  It's interesting to note that the CATS people I came across used the term amber instead of yellow.

               
At East/West Blvd

             
At Tremont - Note the Trolley has it's own Signal to enter the mainline.

     
The white light above the crossing signal blinks as the gates are going down, and stays on steady once down, as is done on the Baltimore system.

  
These "do not turn" signals are becoming pretty much standard on transit systems all over the place.

                       

                 


Electrical, Catenary, Etc

                          

                          

                    


Signs Etc

                          

                       


Train Pictures

                       

                    

              


Stations


9TH STREET

9th Street is the current northern end of operations, and for the time, it is strictly a Trolley stop.... the right picture is looking north towards the abandoned right-of-way.

         


7TH STREET

9th Street is the current northern end of operations for Light Rail.

 


3RD STREET / CONVENTION CENTER

  

                          
Underneath the light rail station, between 3rd and 4th, is a CATS Transportation Center.

  Two trains meet at the 3rd St station.  Photo by Dr. Jon Bell.


STONEWALL 


MOREHEAD


CARSON

     


BLAND

           


EAST/WEST BLVD

                        

           


TREMONT, ATHERTON MILL and the "OLD" TROLLEY SHOPS

In the days before the Light Rail came along, the Trolley used to call the building here as its carbarn, now the Trolleys are kept at the Light Rail shops. There are more pictures of them at the shops below in the shop section.  The Trolleys still use this siding for the southern end of their run.  Also, if you come to this stop, there are everal palces to get something to eat, as well as a McD's and other places out on South Blvd.

             

              

         A few shots before leaving Tremont...

                
#91 gets the green to come out onto the mainline and head north.  The signal can also "do" yellow, because there is a crossover just as soon as the trolley comes out on the mainline (see 2nd pix from the right on the top row of pix under the full size pix. (6/12/2010)

           

                       

   

These two Trolley stops are on the trolley storage lead, and therefore not part of the light rail route.  It appears from the two shots above that they no longer keep the trolley inside the building, as they did prior to light rail construction... Which is too bad because they also had a small display set up inside the building.


NEW BERN

             


the SHOPS

  


SHOP TOUR - 12JUN2010

I just happened to be "strolling thru" Charlotte on my way to Atlanta, to take a few more pix of stations along the light rail system,  when I happened to stop by the Trolley Museum, and noticed a posting in the window for a tour of the Light Rail Shops, TODAY, and I was still an hour early!... Bonus.  I'd like to thank Rocky Hollifield and the Craggy Mountain Railway for setting up the tour, I understand the 3 fellows that set up the tour couldn't make it.

I would like to thank Mr. Larry Hodge and CATS, and Christine in the OCC, for taking the time out of their day to give our small group a really great tour.  Having been "in the business" and getting a lot of tours because of it, this was one of the best!

      The front of the Light Rail Headquarters and Shops.

      Once inside, the lobby is quite open and huge!

          Shots from up above the tracks on the "connector", and one from below it.

  A nice model of the LRV's greets you as you get off of the elevator on the "connector".

         
           
       
Shots from around the shop floor, the wheel trueing machine is by Hegenscheidt, I've never seen anything but in all my shop tours... Also pictured are whole car lifts, and the truck turntable - so once a truck is dropped from a car, they can move it to where they can work on it.

          The Trolleys... Hard to get used to the Favley's sitting on top.

    Christine overseeing the smooth operation of the entire system from the Operations Control Center.

     Pictures of cameras monitoring some of the stations, in the OCC.

    A couple of shots looking south, out of the shop building.


SCALEYBARK

  


WOODLAWN

    Looking south from the platform you can watch NS switch a siding if you're lucky enough.
Photos by Dr. Jon Bell of the Presbyterian College, Clinton SC.


TYVOLA

  A SB train coming back down to ground level just south of Tyvola.  All Photos by Dr. Jon Bell.

     
   


ARCHDALE

      Photos by Dr. Jon Bell.


ARROWWOOD


SHARON ROAD WEST

      Photos by Dr. Jon Bell.


i485 / SOUTH BLVD

    Photos by Dr. Jon Bell.


2010-0612atl2,


 

web statistics

NEW 05/30/2009
Last Modified 07-Oct-2013