Take the train to Pinehurst? You can during next month’s US Open golf tournament in NC

If you’re headed to the U.S. Open golf tournament in Pinehurst in June and don’t relish fighting traffic or hunting for a place to park, the N.C. Department of Transportation and Amtrak have come up with an alternative.

Amtrak will run special trains from Raleigh and Cary south to Pinehurst all four mornings of the championship rounds, June 13 through 16, and return each evening.

The “Open Express” will use tracks owned by Aberdeen Carolina & Western Railway to drop fans off at the Pinehurst Clubhouse near the Pinehurst No. 2 golf course where the tournament will take place.

NCDOT, Amtrak and Aberdeen Carolina & Western announced the service late Tuesday.

“This is an exciting, historic event,” Amtrak Vice President Ray Lang said in a written statement. “We welcome this opportunity to give golf fans an enjoyable, stress-free way to travel to and from Pinehurst with their friends and families.”

The trains will largely follow the route used by Amtrak’s Silver Star, which passes through Raleigh, Cary and Southern Pines on its way between New York and Miami. But in Aberdeen, the Open Express will switch to tracks owned by the Aberdeen Carolina & Western, a short-line railroad that serves the south central part of the state between Charlotte and the Sandhills.

Aberdeen Carolina & Western’s tracks pass right through Pinehurst, within sight of the clubhouse.

The Open Express has been in the works for months. It grew out of talks between U.S. Open organizers and NCDOT about how to improve transportation to and from the tournament, said Jason Orthner, director of NCDOT’s Rail Division.

“It takes more than you can possibly imagine to make sure everything is set up correctly, but we’re really excited to provide this opportunity,” Orthner said in an interview. “The Open is a huge event for North Carolina, and we’re trying to find other transportation options to get people there.”

With seats for about 300, the Open Express will carry only a tiny fraction of the people attending the tournament. U.S. Open organizers say they expect 250,000 people on the grounds at Pinehurst during the week, including three days of practice rounds when the trains won’t be running.

The morning Open Express will leave Raleigh Union Station at 7 a.m. and Cary at 7:15 a.m., arriving in Pinehurst a little after 9 a.m. The evening train will leave Pinehurst at 6:35 p.m. and arrive in Cary at about 8:30 p.m. and Raleigh Union Station 15 minutes later.

Standard tickets cost $25 each way and must be purchased in advanced at Customers should type or select “Pinehurst NC” and either Raleigh or Cary when choosing their origin and destination.

NCDOT and Amtrak periodically make special stops at big events, including the N.C. State Fair in Raleigh and the Lexington Barbecue Festival. But Orthner says this may be the first time they’ve worked with another railroad to provide passenger service to an event that’s not on an Amtrak route.

“It’s a process to have a temporary service like this. Now that we’ve been through it there may be future opportunities to do it for other locations and events as well,” he said. “Certainly North Carolina has lots of major events in places that may not be on our current service map.”

For more information about the U.S. Open and tickets, go to