Texas Exploring High-Speed Rail Along Major Corridors, Including I-20, I-35

Categories: Transportation

Thumbnail image for bullettrainnew.jpg
Texas Central Railway
If high-speed rail is to exist in Texas over the next several decades, it won't be the work of the federal or the state government. Though the state has been exploring the idea for close to three decades, there's no money on the table and little political will to put it there. Instead, it will be the work of a private company like Texas Central Railway, which is predicting that the lure of a 90-minute, hassle-free connection between Dallas and Houston will attract enough development and ridership that the $10 billion project will pay for itself.

That's not to say that the government isn't involved. The Texas Department of Transportation has been quietly conducting feasibility and environmental-impact studies for high-speed rail. The big one, which explores the possibility of a Texas-Oklahoma connection, is due at the end of 2014. And recently, a team of University of Texas at Arlington researchers published a study advocating for high-speed passenger and freight rail to be built alongside major highways.

"I'm really pleased at the times that were achievable," UTA civil engineering professor Stephen Mattingly told the Fort Worth Star-Telegram over the weekend. Alongside roads built for cars going 75 or 80, Mattingly's team concluded that trains could go up to 186 mph.

See also: TxDOT Really Wants to See That Whole Dallas to Houston High-Speed Rail Line Happen

That speed would be possible along four corridors in the state: along Interstate 20 between Dallas and Fort Worth; I-45 between Dallas and Houston; I-35 between Laredo and Dallas-Fort Worth; and State Highway 6 from Houston to Waco.

The travel times with a 186 mph maglev train would be low. From Dallas, it would be 15 minutes to Fort Worth, 97 minutes to Houston, 70 to Austin. If wheeled trains were used, the times would be slightly longer.

Mattingly's team singled out the four routes partly because of population and ridership calculations, partly because they are relatively straight, and partly because they already contain sufficient right-of way to accommodate a bullet train. No one wants a repeat of the Trans-Texas Corridor.

See also: North Texas Senators Beg TxDOT Not to Screw Up This High-Speed Rail Thing

The study will have be of limited use to the Texas Central Railway, which the Star-Telegram reports is using freight right-of-way. They hope to be finished with the project by 2021.

My Voice Nation Help
20 comments
Montemalone
Montemalone topcommenter

Is this a story from 1980?

bmarvel
bmarvel topcommenter

1. No public transportation system anywhere, anytime in the world has ever "paid for itself." None. Ever. That's not why you build public transportation systems, to make a profit. You build them because they are necessary.

2. Every civilized country on the globe -- and a few uncivilized ones -- has a  robust rail passenger system, most high-speed. Except here in the U.S., where we still cram people by ones and twos and threes into their automobiles and allow them to drive everywhere on roads and highways paid for by taxes. Or loaded them on highly subsidized airliners. Want a self-supporting transportation system? Put everyone on horseback and require them to find their own paths between destinations, paying interveing landowners whatever the traffic will bear.


roo_ster
roo_ster

Personally, I advocate a return to another technology big in the 19th century: canals.  Dig a ditch between these cities and buy a few cigarette boats.  What a bitchin' commute.  I don;t see how it can possibly fail.  And if the funding dries up mid-stream (so to speak--heh) they can always fall back on mules towing barges.

xmantx
xmantx

ha, seems like we've seen this about 10x before in different forms. Wake me up when there is a real plan.

Sotiredofitall
Sotiredofitall topcommenter

"will attract enough development and ridership that the $10 billion project will pay for itself"   Where have I heard this before?

CitzenKim
CitzenKim

I love the idea of these things, but between Dallas and Ft. Worth?  You get there in 15 minutes, but with check-in and boarding time included, is it really saving that much time over the TRE?  (BTW, I have no idea how long the current TRE trip is, but it can't be over an hour can it?).

Also, if you're going to do Dallas-Austin, extend it on to San Antonio.

DeLaNate
DeLaNate

I know it will never happen, but just imagine if the bullet train between Dallas and Ft. Worth occasionally had a nice little stop along the way in Arlington right by the stadiums and Six Flags with shuttles across the highway to Wet N' Wild (I don't know what it's called anymore). But again, I know it will never happen, b/c Jerruh wants his parking money.

bvckvs
bvckvs topcommenter

@Montemalone No, it's a current story - it's just not the first time they pulled this scam.

Whenever Republicans hear about a liberal program with good funding they put together a fake project to steal some of the funding for themselves.


harding.josh30
harding.josh30

@bmarvel Pretty sure Austrslia and Canada don't have High Speed Rail or even a decent passenger rail system. The other thing is their are some public transportation systems that currently make a profit year after year like the Hong Kong Subway, several public transportation systems in Japan generate a profit. Even the Acela Express makes a profit so it is very possible.  But that doesn't mean government shouldn't be investing in HSR we do need it but only in regional networks for now at least.

harding.josh30
harding.josh30

@Sotiredofitall Well the fact is they don't need government money so if they spend 10 billion and go bankrupt then it wont be the tax payers who lose money. it'll be the investors.

kduble
kduble

@SotiredofitallYou're half-right. I really don't see a development argument for HSR. There's no doubt a HSR terminal will attract development, but you can buy a lot more development than that at far less expense by investing directly in a project rather than dispersing your investment over hundreds of miles of cordoned and inaccessible track.

The real argument for HSR is in providing the kind of transportation network to make the cities in Texas globally competitive. Airports like DFW and Bush Intercontinental provide world-class national and international connections, and our freeways, along with DART, the TRE and Houston Metro, are providing at least a nascent transportation system for our cities. What we lack is fast and convenient access to the other major cities in Texas, as well as places like Little Rock, OKC, Tulsa and Albuquerque.

Intermediate distance options right now involve lengthy treks to regional airports, along with time-consuming check-ins and frequent weather delays. It's this intermediate distance part of our transportation network that is not 21st century and not world class.

joy_f
joy_f

In Tokyo there was a stop on the HSR in Yokohama - about the same idea. Its crazy popular because the rail has to go that way anyway, to get to say Kyoto, but twenty minutes was just awesome, so a lot of frustrated commuters decided they just didn't care about the cost, it was good to get their lives back and bought the tickets anyway. Very often full trains between that short stop, and cuts out people having to drive to say Dallas from Fort Worth to get on the train to Houston.

harding.josh30
harding.josh30

@CitzenKim Yeah the company that wants this build this HSR Line only wanted one stop in the Dallas Area. But then everyone complained that one stop wasn't enough so now it's supposed to be to stops and maybe even a third at the airport. Funny thing isn't don't some people always complain about how the government needs to leave businesses alone?

kduble
kduble

@CitzenKim  You're right. The local public really doesn't understand the concept of high-speed rail. It's for distances in the 250-750 mile range. The time saving doesn't justify the cost in shorter distances, and when distances go beyond 750 miles, an airplane makes more sense.

joy_f
joy_f

Expand the exchange student network, send up and coming engineering, accounting, poly Sci and architecture students to Japan to study for a few years. Like a lot of them - when they come back, all of a sudden, it will be a reality. They will get used to it, like it and demand one of there own, wondering why their silly country thinks its cool to keep its people back in the dark ages.

kduble
kduble

@DeLaNate You´re right that will never happen, but for good reason: High-speed rail is interurban. What you're describing is intraurban. HSR competes with commuter airlines. It makes no sense to develop HSR for such short distances. A car, a cab or a limo will always be faster, because it picks you up and drops you off exactly where you want. HSR would make sense between places like downtown Dallas and downtown Houston because, when you consider the time spent in transportation to and from the airports and the urban centers and the need to arrive an hour early and go through security, flying wouldn't be any faster.

observist
observist topcommenter

@DeLaNate  And that's exactly how they'd build it - train service to Wet 'N' Wild... BUT NOT THE AIRPORT.   *&!@(*$&^! Yellow Cab.

Now Trending

Dallas Concert Tickets

From the Vault

 

General

Loading...