That Dallas-Houston Bullet-Train Proposal Needs More Money Before it Can Start Costing Money

Categories: Transportation

There was a lot of buzz back in May when a group led by the Central Japan Railway Co. and former Harris County Judge Robert Eckels announced plans to raise $10 billion in private funds to establish a bullet train linking Dallas and Houston. TxDOT, too, has been looking at high-speed rail, and is in the midst of a preliminary analysis of the Houston-Dallas corridor.

The Regional Transportation Council was expecting progress on that front when it drafted its long-range transportation plan, Mobility 2035, last year -- just not so much quite so soon, said Tom Shelton, a planner with the North Central Texas Council of Governments.

"We had a little bit of money in our previous budget, $640,000 already approved (for high-speed rail planning)," Shelton said. "But, based on this heightened level of interest we're getting ... we don't believe that level of funding will be sufficient."

So NCTCOG is asking the RTC to double that amount.

The extra cash is needed to provide interested parties, both public, like TxDOT, and private, like the Texas Central Railway, with the information they need when they need it, which, considering that TCR has expressed hope of beginning service by 2020, is soon.

For one, NCTCOG needs to establish basic guidelines for how it will handle proposals to build high-speed rail to the region from whatever direction so that it won't be totally winging it. Also, planners will need to gather data on why travelers are coming to Dallas from Houston and where in the DFW are they are going so developers can know where to locate rail stations. Mobility 2035 called for a three-pronged approach, with stations in downtown Dallas, DFW Airport, and downtown Ft. Worth.

And, by the way, Shelton mentioned that the $2 billion Cotton Belt Rail Corridor, which will stretch nearly 70 miles from southwest Ft. Worth to DART's Red Line in Plano but has been stalled for lack of funding, is also attracting potential investors from Europe and Asia.

"I'm not at liberty to share names," he said. "Just Google 'regional passenger rail' on the global scale, and you'll get the cast of characters. Basically, the answer is that all of them have expressed some level of interest."


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6 comments
Betty Culbreath
Betty Culbreath

I'm sure City of Dallas has bucket full of money to give them.Lately every thing with a tax number has gotten money that City Manager and Council said we did not have for basic service.Why would we need to give producers of Dallas money for their program and we can't put up a street light next to their new South Central police station and officers must park cars on street because of limited parking space.

Bmarvel
Bmarvel

By the way, observist, did I say that you can get up from your seat on the train, wander around, go have a drink. Get away from the crying baby in the next seat. You can drag out your laptop and do a little work. Read a book. Have another drink. Try THAT in your car.

Bmarvel
Bmarvel

Fly from any American city to any other American city and where do you end up? Twenty-thirty miles from downtown, maybe more from your home. (Ever fly in to Kansas City's airport, which is somewhere in south Nebraska or Iowa?) Even if your destination isn't in the central city, what are the odds it's near the airport? The train puts you right downtown. And there can be satellite stations. (In Washington, D.C., I used the Beltway station, which was close to home. If I lived south of the city I could have used Alexandria.) But you can't hop from DFW to convenient Love Field, or Houston International to Houston Hobby. Airplanes just aren't flexible. Train passengers do not have to go through the airport security song and dance, so this argument was just a red herring you pulled out of one of those crevices. We can ignore it. What are the transaction costs of driving your automobile? Time, first of all, enroute and at stopovers for gas, food, calls of nature. Risk: You're far more likely to get crack up our auto than you are to be derailed in a train. Upkeep on the car per mile driven. Insurance. Wear and tear. Speed traps. Traffic delays. (High speed rail is designed to avoid these, since it travels on a dedicated right-of-way.) Fewer people in Europe and Japan have cars because fewer people in Japan and Europe need cars. They have efficient rail service. They don't have to drive from Paris to the Riviera, Copenhagen to Berlin. There's a train leaving every couple hours. Americans who travel abroad -- even anti-subsidy "conservative" Americans -- come back raving about Europe's trains. "Why can't we have something like that?" they wail. The secret is, we can. If we really want it. Something to consider on a late, hot Sunday night when you ad the squalling kids are on your way back from the Hill Country, stuck in one of those monster traffic jams on !35.     

MaxNoDifference
MaxNoDifference

Are we sure that this money will be used for high speed rail planning and not for another local regional transportation project?  Specifically, one that will get a bit wet after heavy rainstorms.

Heywood U Buzzoff
Heywood U Buzzoff

The extra cash is needed to provide interested parties, both public, like TxDOT, and private, like the Texas Central Railway, with the information they need when they need it, which, considering that TCR has expressed hope of beginning service by 2020, is soon.

Well, now they we are handing out cash money, I'd like some for the information I need before I need it despite how vague or whishy-washy it sounds.

Chris Danger
Chris Danger

Build them already for christsakes, anything is better than driving on the roads in this state..

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