RALEIGH, N.C., Jan. 24, 2014 /PRNewswire/ -- The North Carolina Railroad Company is one of our state's most enduring treasures, the oldest continuously-operating corporation in North Carolina, and an ongoing catalyst for economic development.
And as the North Carolina Railroad celebrates its 165th anniversary, it is worth noting its founder, the visionary North Carolina Governor John Motley Morehead, chartered the railroad as "an economic tree of life" for our state.
Today, the North Carolina Railroad's modern vision echoes Gov. Morehead's dream to improve our state by enabling freight to grow business, expanding rail to move people, and investing in North Carolina.
The North Carolina Railroad Company's 317-mile corridor extends from Morehead City through New Bern, Kinston, Goldsboro, Raleigh, Cary, Research Triangle Park, Durham, Burlington, Greensboro, High Point, Salisbury, and Kannapolis to Charlotte. By virtue of the 1989 merger with its sister company, the Atlantic and North Carolina Railroad, it serves the Port of Morehead City and three military bases, and it links with numerous distribution and manufacturing facilities, other railroads, and major interstate highways. It passes through 16 counties that are home to two out of every five North Carolinians.
The railroad also connects with over 1,500 miles of rail across the state, and lies within a two-mile radius of 30 North Carolina colleges, universities and community colleges. Built to enable commerce across the state by connecting the farms in the east with the industrial centers in the piedmont and the west, today, the modern railroad connects North Carolina to the rest of the country and beyond.
Chartered on January 27, 1849 by a one-vote majority of the General Assembly, the North Carolina Railroad was financed by combining $3 million in state funds and $1 million in private funds. In 1998, the state bought all of the private shares, making the railroad a unique asset for North Carolina: a private company whose only shareholders are the state's citizens.
Our track operating lease with Norfolk Southern Railway produces its $14 million in primary annual revenue. The railroad invests those revenues in track upgrades such as bridges; double-tracking and sidings that allow trains to pass each other; pedestrian underpasses; and other enhancements for capacity, efficiency and safety to create jobs, as was intended at inception. The North Carolina Railroad receives no state appropriations.
These improvements allow for faster and heavier trains to move freight safely and efficiently, to serve businesses and industrial sites, and to improve crossing protections for vehicles and pedestrians. Our railroad - your railroad - partners with economic development organizations, the Department of Commerce, the North Carolina Department of Transportation, universities and colleges, and cities and counties across our state to promote economic growth and vitality.
Our strategic plan includes new investments to help our state compete for jobs and develop our assets for the good of the people of North Carolina.
On its 165th birthday, the North Carolina Railroad continues to build on its strong and unique tradition of providing high-quality rail transportation across the state and remains a treasured asset of North Carolina's people that will continue to benefit the state and help create vital jobs for our citizens for centuries to come.
SOURCE North Carolina Railroad Company