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Red Line Commuter Rail – History of the Project

by | Apr 1, 2024

Screenshot from the CATS RedLine information page.


Through development of rapid commuter rail service, this project aims to connect the northern towns of Mecklenburg County and southern Iredell County to Uptown Charlotte

Imagine hopping on a train in Mooresville, Davidson, Cornelius, Huntersville or North Charlotte for a direct connection to Uptown, no traffic, no parking hassles. That’s the vision for the Red Line Commuter Rail. This investment in the North Corridor is building upon more than 15 years of planning. The 25-mile commuter rail would bring a supplementary rapid-transit corridor to the region, helping move passengers and driving economic development.

The North Corridor has changed a lot since the original design in 2008. This project will update the design of the Red Line based on these changes, planned development and land use, input from the public and technical considerations. CATS is engaged in a collaborative planning effort between the railroads, towns, city and regional planning organizations to establish a shared vision for the corridor.

Project Description

The Red Line is a 25-mile commuter rail project using the existing Norfolk Southern rail line. The Red Line would provide a regional connection between Uptown Charlotte and the downtowns of Huntersville, Cornelius and Davidson, extending into Mt. Mourne in Mooresville.

Stations will function not only as park and rides but as integrated mobility hubs with bus services and first/last mile connections. Stations will also be incorporated into surrounding Transit-Oriented Developments.

The Red Line would provide a direct connection to the Charlotte Gateway Station and the surrounding entertainment district including the Carolina Panthers, Charlotte Knights, and Charlotte Football Club. The Gateway Station would also provide connection to the Silver Line Light Rail, the Gold Line Streetcar, Amtrak, and intercity and local bus services.


The Red Line was first identified in 1998 in the 2025 Transit & Land Use Plan. In 2002, the Metropolitan Transit Commission (MTC) approved a major investment study in commuter rail along the I-77 north corridor. The initial design was completed in 2008.

In 2013, Norfolk Southern changed its Passenger Rail Policy. Under the new policy’s requirements, the Red Line was not feasible on Norfolk Southern’s “O-Line”, which is the single-track rail line that runs through Charlotte, Huntersville, Cornelius, Davidson and Mooresville.

In February 2019, the MTC approved a new Locally Preferred Alternative (LPA) for the North Corridor. The LPA established a North Corridor public transportation strategy that included near-term Bus Rapid Transit on I-77 while continuing a long-term vision for the Red Line, future regional rapid transit and local mobility options. In September 2022, the MTC took action to amend the FY2023 Capital Investment Plan (CIP) to include funding to advance the Red Line Commuter Rail.

On July 25, 2023, the City of Charlotte received a letter from Norfolk Southern stating that the railroad is willing to consider a possible transaction of the O Line. Norfolk Southern and the City are currently in good faith discussions about whether a potential transaction is reasonable at this time. On September 13, 2023, the Charlotte City Council approved the contract to advance the design of the Red Line.

Fast Facts

  • 10 Stations and 25 miles of track serving 5 municipalities
  • Stations will offer park and ride, mobility hubs and first/last mile connections.
  • Stations will be enhanced and maximized with Transit-Oriented Developments.
  • Train will use an existing Norfolk Southern rail line that will be upgraded.


  • Provides a direct commuter transit service to the northern towns.
  • Supports traffic reduction along I-77.
  • Leads to faster transportation through the establishment of a rapid-transit corridor.
  • Drives economic development along the route from Charlotte to Mooresville.
  • Creates connections to the Charlotte Gateway Station, including additional transit options and the surrounding entertainment district, home to the Carolina Panthers, Charlotte Knights, and Charlotte Football Club.
  • Provides the opportunity for expansion into Iredell County serving key destinations like Lowes Headquarters.


Visit the Events Page to Register for an upcoming public meeting

  • Wednesday, April 10th Virtual Red Line Commuter Rail Public Meeting
  • Tuesday, April 16th Davidson – Red Line Commuter Rail Public Meeting
  • Thursday, April 18th Huntersville – Red Line Commuter Rail Public Meeting
  • Saturday, April 20th Charlotte – Red Line Commuter Rail Public Meeting

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