Todd's Railfan Guide to

In General
How to get here

Amtrak Schedules


In General

Raleigh is the capitol of North Carolina, and you're not far away from it when you're at the Amtrak Station.

Raleigh is served by CSX, Norfolk Southern, and Amtrak.

Amtrak has three trains that service Raleigh, two of which are co-sponsored by NCDOT... the Piedmont and the Carolinian.  The Piedmont is a twice daily train between Raleigh and Charlotte.  Trains 73 and 75 are the southbounds, trains 74 and 76 are the northbounds.  The Carolinian runs between Charlotte and Boston MA, via Raleigh.  Train 79 is the SB, train 80 is the NB.  The third train is the Silver Star which runs between Boston MA and Jacksonville FL, train 91 is the SB, 92 the NB.

The Boylan St overpass provides a good spot for pictures at the wye, with morning and evening sun giving you good lighting for EB's and WB's respectively.

Much of the action in town is Norfolk Southern.  Their main yard in town is Glenwood Yard, located across and on the west side of the Capitol Blvd from the CSX yard.

Off of Halifax St and Seaboard Ave, is the ex Seaboard Airline depot, which has housed a garden center for many a year, Logan Trading Company.  This is also one of the better place to get pictures of the one end of the CSX yard, and the NCDOT equipment which is stored here.

If you take a right before the depot parking lot onto Semart Dr, the road will take you down to where a small CSX office is, and their engines along with the NCDOT stuff.  The CSX folks there may be kind enough to let you take pictures if you act properly.

While you're there, across Peace St, is the old SAL turntable.  It can be accessed via W. Johnson Rd, only off the northbound side of Capitol Blvd.

According to sources, there is one scheduled CSX freight, a couple of locals, the thru Amtrak train, and whatever moves NCDOT makes.

Hayden Cope of Raleigh sends in this update for activity in the area:

There are actually two daily freights on CSX here, F741 and F742 Raleigh - Hamlet,
     ... on M-F the Raleigh - Henderson turn runs, F711 NB and F709 SB,
     ... along with the Raleigh - Youngsville job, F735,
     ... F703 the yard job goes on duty at 10PM every night.

On NS you will have
     ... 352 and 351, Raleigh - Linwood and
     ... 349 and 350 Linwood - Selma.
     ... Coal trains no longer run this way but unit grain trains from Decatur and unit ethanol trains make regular appearances.
     ... E25 the Raleigh - Fayetteville turn can be seen at Boylan Tu Th and occasionally on Sat and Su.
     ... E20 AM yard job can be seen, and the E60 PM yard job will run around after 350 rolls through.
     ... Sometimes an E90 extra will roll through too from Selma to Glenwood.

I also highly recommend railfanning at the fairgrounds in front of Dorton Arena next time you happen to be in town. All the traffic is very visible there and they move at a real good speed.

Cary and Durham are close enough to the west make it worthwhile to visit them, and each also has an Amtrak station.  There's a really nice curve on the far side of Durham that is nice to catch trains on.  To the east you have Selma, which is where the Amtrak routes join up with two of the other North Carolina passenger trains.

Note: The majority of pictures below were shot on Wednesday morning, July 4th, 2012.  The day turned out to be one of the hottest of the summer, and the humidity was almost as high as the temps... that's why none of the pictures really look stellar, cause you could "cut the air with a knife".

A list of equipment owned by NCDOT is at: http://www.bytrain.org/equipmt.html

A good page of NC links can be found at: http://www.tomstrainstation.com/links.html

Thanks to Shave for additional information on items of railfan interest in Raleigh.
Hayden Cope of Raleigh for additional train info.
     Thanks to Denver Todd for his help with my railfan guides and suggesting welcome changes to help all ya'll.

Please Note:  Since the main focus of my two websites is railroad signals, the railfan guides are oriented towards the signal fan being able to locate them.  For those of you into the modeling aspect of our hobby, my indexa page has a list of almost everything railroad oriented I can think of to provide you with at least a few pictures to help you detail your pike.

Aerial shots were taken from either Google Maps or www.bing.com/maps as noted, once in a great while maybe MapQuest.  The screen captures are made with Snagit, a Techsmith product... a great tool if you have never used it! 

My RSUS philosophy: Pictures and maps are worth a thousand words, especially for railfanning.  Text descriptions only get you so far, especially if you get lost or disoriented.  Take along good maps.... a GPS is OK to get somewhere, but maps are still better if you get lost!  I belong to AAA, which allows you to get local maps for free when you visit the local branches.  ADC puts out a nice series of county maps for the Washington DC area, but their state maps do not have the railroads on them.  If you can find em, I like the National Geographic map book of the U.S..... good, clear, and concise graphics, and they do a really good job of showing you where tourist type attractions are, although they too lack the railroads.

Pictures and additional information is always needed if anyone feels inclined to take 'em, send 'em, and share 'em, or if you have something to add or correct.... credit is always given!  Contact info is here

Getting Here

Raleigh is conveniently located off I-40.   I-40 to the west joins up with I-85 on the other side of Durham.  To the east, I-40 actually runs SE and connects with I-95, for those of you coming from the southern eastern seaboard. 

From the northern seaboard, I-85 from the Petersburg area would be you're best bet.  You could take US70 off I-85 into Raleigh, but I prefer a little bit of driving thru Durham on Gregson St (exit 176) south to Chapel Hill, where you can then get on the Durham Freeway (NC147) to connect to I-40.

If you're coming in from eastern NC, US70 does a pretty good job from places like Havelock, New Bern, and Goldsboro... but ya'll probably already know that.  BTW, the NS line that runs out of town on a SE course hits these towns.

From the Atlanta area, of course, it's I-85 to I-40.

From the western Virginia areas like Roanoke, Staunton, or Winchester, come down I-81 to I-77 into Charlotte, and then take I-85 east to I-40.

The Spencer Shops is about 120 miles west, Durham about 20 miles, Greensboro about 75 miles, and Charlotte about 155 miles.


The above map in a PDF is here


    1       The Amtrak Station

GPS Coordinates (station): 35.775005, -78.645823

Located off of West Cabarrus St, and next to a crossing.  Pictures from the crossing are OK, better from across the tracks in the industrial park.



    The Piedmont in Charlotte

    2       The North Carolina State Capitol Building

GPS Coordinates (center of the building): 35.780413, -78.639096

    3       CSX Raleigh Yard

Only thing running on July 4th 2012 was this guy doing some switching




    4       NS Glenwood Yard

Above pictures shot just after sunrise on July 4th, 2012, not much going on!... Hazy day.

      The crossing at Fairview Rd, looking towards the yard, and away from the yard

    5       ex Seaboard Airline Depot

GPS Coordinates: 35.789628, -78.640898

It's amazing how much of the old station infrastructure is still intact after all these years.  A quick walk around reveals a lot.  Almost everything in the immediate vicinity has SEABOARD in it's name!



    6       NS/CSX Interchange and Diamond

GPS Coordinates (parking lot adjacent to the diamond): 35.804825, -78.624424

This interchange is at the north end of both of the yards.

    7       NS/CSX Wye and Interchange along with the Amtrak Station

GPS Coordinates (north leg of the wye in parking lot with good vantage point): 35.777016, -78.647365

  From Hargett St, looking north on the single track at the north end of the wye

    At the Cabarrus St crossing

    8       NC DOT Storage

GPS Coordinates: 35.792816, -78.641116



    9       Old SAL Turntable

GPS Coordinates: 35.787398, -78.641786

Many thanks to Shave for turning me on to this rare find, that is easy to access to boot!


    1       Hargett St

On the south side of Hargett


    2       Hargett St

Looking southwest from Hargett, notice they used two separate signal masts instead of putting them on a xxx mast.


    3       Hargett St

Looking north from Hargett..... Milepost 157 is also in this shot

    4       The Wye

WB signals on the west side of the wye


    5       The Wye - CP Hunt

EB signals on the SE leg of the wye, notice the one is displaying a clear for the freight getting ready to blow thru


Amtrak Schedules



Historical USGS Maps

A portion of the USGS Raleigh Quadrangle map from 1940.  Doesn't appear that a whole lot has changed, which is most unusual!
This and more found here: http://www.lib.utexas.edu/maps/topo/topo_us.html


    NS overpass over Peace Street after coming off Capitol Blvd (looking right)

  CSX overpass over Peace Street after coming off Capitol Blvd (looking left)

  Going under the CSX tracks on Whitaker Mill Road

  Getting on Capitol Blvd from Fairview Road, heading towards downtown

                EB freight rolling thru at 06:58

  Richmond Police car at the end of W Davie St by the Raleigh Depot center

The Raleigh Depot center, a small commercial center on the one side of the wye

       Grade crossing at Cabarrus St

       Signs at the end of W Davie St, by the entrance to the Raleigh Depot center

 My truck, always has that B&O CPL on the back when I take railfan trips!


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New 02/22/2012
Last Modified: 02/23/2014