Red Line Commuter Rail


CATS Red line commuter rail logo with light rail icon

Bringing rapid and reliable commuter rail to the region 

CATS Red line commuter rail

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.

Map of Red Line stops from Charlotte gateway station all the way to Mount mourne 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.




  • Provides a direct transit service between Uptown Charlotte and the town centers of Huntersville, Cornelius and Davidson, extending to Mount Mourne.
  • Supports traffic reduction along I-77.
  • Drives economic development along the route.
  • Creates connections to the Charlotte Gateway Station, including additional transit options and the surrounding entertainment district.
  • Provides the opportunity for expansion into Iredell County serving key destinations like Lowes Headquarters.
  • Allows commuters to comfortably work while traveling.


Red Line 2024 timeline ranging from 1998 to 2024

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.


Next Steps

The first phase of the Red Line Design Update will be completed by early 2025. It will focus on:

  • Public involvement and stakeholder coordination
  • Updating the previous design from 2008
  • Assess the previously identified station locations
  • Examining new options for a new vehicle maintenance facility
  • Reevaluating vehicle technologies and frequency of service
  • Analyzing new alignment options into Uptown Charlotte
  • Providing an updated cost estimate


There will be multiple opportunities for public involvement over the course of the year, including several public meetings and direct community engagement.

Public Engagement 

Submit a question or comment

Your input is important to the planning and success of this venture.

Comments can be submitted in person at the public meetings, by emailing, calling 855-925-2801 (Project Code 1752) or by mailing a letter to Charlotte Area Transit System C/O Mr. Brian Nadolny, 600 E. 4th St., 14th Floor, Charlotte, NC 28202.

Because we are early in the process, we will continue to accept comments at any time throughout the project design. The public is encouraged to subscribe for project updates and learn more about the Red Line at