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Texas high-speed rail: public scoping meetings; possible routes


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#1 beautifulplanet

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Posted 24 October 2014 - 04:15 AM

Three of six public scoping meetings for Texas high-speed rail already took place, in Dallas (October 21), Corsicana (October 22), Teague (yesterday, October 23).

 

Three meetings are still coming up.

- in Bryan on October 27, see here:

http://www.txdot.gov...ail/102714.html

- in Huntsville on October 28, see here:

http://www.txdot.gov...ail/102814.html

- in Houston on October 29, see here:

http://www.txdot.gov...ail/102914.html

 

Here is TCR's invitation to the meetings:

http://texascentral....-rail-to-texas/

 

 

 

To some, the press coverage about the past meetings might be interesting, as possible routes and stations for Texas high-speed rail are being discussed.

 

 

The detailed route maps can be found not on TCR's website, but on a special website for the environmental impact statement (EIS):

http://dallashouston...s-and-pictures/

 

For example, there are the two alternatives selected for detailed evaluation:

tcr-board-recommended-alternatives-octob

 

 

 

Regarding station locations, many people seem to think that the stations should be at Union Station in Dallas, and in the downtown of Houston as well. That's why some people might be disappointed to hear that while a station could be in downtown Dallas, it won't be at Union Station, according to a statement by a TCR official to be found in an article in the Texas Tribune:

 

 

No Texas Central Railway officials spoke at the meeting, though company officials did speak with attendees and reporters before and after the hearing.

Travis Kelly, the company’s vice president of government relations, said Union Station was likely “too built out” for the train to have its station there, but he added that five other downtown Dallas locations were under review. He said the company considered potential ridership demand a central factor in selecting station locations, but that other issues — such as the company's ability to develop land around a station — were also playing into its decisions.

 

 

source:

First Bullet Train Meeting Focuses on Station Locations

Oct. 21, 2014

By Aman Batheja

http://www.texastrib...tion-locations/

 

 

 

 

Another very informative report comes from public media organization Kera News:

 

Possible Routes, Stops Unveiled For Dallas-Houston High-Speed Rail

Oct. 21, 2014

By Bill Zeeble

http://keranews.org/...high-speed-rail

 

Among other things, it states:

 

With an estimated cost north of $10 billion, they’re also looking for more investors.

If all goes well, the first train will carry passengers by 2021.

 

 

 

 

Of course, the Fort Worth Star Telegram published an editorial, that high-speed rail should also offer service to Fort Worth, not only between Dallas and Houston:

 

FW must not be forgotten as Dallas-to-Houston high-speed rail plans unfold

Wednesday, Oct 22, 2014

by Editorial Board

http://www.star-tele...-as-dallas.html

 

 

Some might think that it's good to be clear, that any high speed rail infrastructure between Dallas and Fort Worth will not be built with private funding by Texas Central Railway or their partners. Texas Central Railway and their partners will have enough to do between to raise $10 billion of private capital to build high-speed rail between Dallas and Houston. Probably Texas Central Railway would be willing to operate high-speed rail service between Fort Worth and Dallas as well once it is built, but it has to be built with public funding. Above Forth Worth Star Telegram editorial estimates that the cost for the segment between Fort Worth and Dallas could be $4 billion. Many may wish for all the public entities, no matter if the local communities, the state of Texas, as well as the federal level, to be able to allocate full funding for such high-speed rail infrastructure between Fort Worth and Dallas in a collaborative effort, as some might think it should be done for other routes mentioned in the editorial.

 

 



#2 Tokkyu40

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Posted 26 October 2014 - 09:28 AM

Fort Worth to Dallas is only 35 miles. It wouldn't be worth the trouble to put in HSR for such a short run.
If it were on the way to somewhere with a long enough run for the speed advantage to justify the expense it might be worth building.



#3 Anderson

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Posted 31 October 2014 - 03:36 AM

Fort Worth to Dallas is only 35 miles. It wouldn't be worth the trouble to put in HSR for such a short run.
If it were on the way to somewhere with a long enough run for the speed advantage to justify the expense it might be worth building.

Fort Worth and Dallas are probably large enough to at least consider service to both.  You wouldn't have a lot of local traffic between the two unless Texas Central slashed fares to fill dead space (though to be fair, an actually-fast train running more or less express from downtown to downtown could drum up a modest pile of business to fill that space) and Fort Worth's service might actually be a separate line, but the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex is massive enough to entertain some sort of expansion in this vein.


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#4 jis

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Posted 31 October 2014 - 08:17 AM

A 35 mile line is crying out for a showcase Japanese Maglev :help:



#5 Tokkyu40

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Posted 31 October 2014 - 08:33 AM

Trinity Railway Express already runs between the two cities in about an hour. The time savings on such a short trip wouldn't justify the cost of building the ROW.
Abilene and Odessa aren't big enough to support a high speed run to El Paso and there aren't enough passengers to justify a run to the panhandle, although a conventional line through Wichita Falls and Amarillo to Pueblo or Denver might make sense. I don't see the passenger density to justify HSR.



#6 Anderson

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Posted 31 October 2014 - 11:35 AM

Tokkyu40:
Agreed on the panhandles.  San Antonio is big enough to justify a connection, and that honestly seems more likely than not in the longer term (especially if the line can be run via Austin as well).  Beyond that...well, if the Mexicans kick in, a Monterrey/Laredo line might make sense if Mexico ever settles down.  The Mexicans do seem to want that line to happen.  Beyond that, though, the big cities in Texas are a long way from anywhere major.  Only Oklahoma City seems like it might work en route to elsewhere, and even that seems to be a bit of a stretch.


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#7 beautifulplanet

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Posted 31 October 2014 - 03:15 PM

Thank you for your post.

 

Trinity Railway Express already runs between the two cities in about an hour. The time savings on such a short trip wouldn't justify the cost of building the ROW.

 

Correct, TRE runs between Dallas and Fort Worth. At the same time, many might disagree on the notion that the time savings wouldn't be significant. During the mid-day on weekdays, TRE only runs every 2 hours. On Saturdays, TRE in general only runs every 1 1/2 to 2 hours. There's no Sunday service at all. Practically that would mean, future travelers would be getting from Houston to Dallas in 90 minutes, and Central Texas Railway already pretty much indicated its Dallas terminus will not be at current station, possibly close to it, but not at it. This would leave passengers for Fort Worth to spend extra time for transportation from the high-speed rail station to the TRE platform. If future riders would be lucky, that could be 10 minutes. Then, there would be extra transfer time, as Central Texas Railway will run 34 times a day in each direction on weekdays, so probably every hour with extra runs during peak hours. In order to not mention the worst case of having to wait 2 hours for TRE, maybe the future rider will only have to calculate in 30 minutes as transfer time. And then, the passenger for Fort Worth would have to spend a full hour on a commuter train to Fort Worth. So 90 minutes from Houston to Dallas, and then 10+30+60 minutes from Dallas to Fort Worth. Many might think (f.e. the Forth Worth Star Telegram editorial board mentioned above) that the benefits of a quick 18 minute hop from Dallas to Forth Worth as part of a one-seat ride Houston to Forth Worth would be significant. With Fort Worth alone having a population of more than three quarters of a million, and whole Tarrant County more than 2 million, some might think that would be a significant ridership base to tap into.

 

About building the Dallas to Fort Worth high-speed rail infrastructure:

The time savings on such a short trip wouldn't justify the cost of building the ROW.

 

Many might think - "wouldn't justify the cost" is statement that might apply or not apply depending on to whom the cost would have to be justified. So as said above:

 

 

Some might think that it's good to be clear, that any high speed rail infrastructure between Dallas and Fort Worth will not be built with private funding by Texas Central Railway or their partners. Texas Central Railway and their partners will have enough to do between to raise $10 billion of private capital to build high-speed rail between Dallas and Houston. Probably Texas Central Railway would be willing to operate high-speed rail service between Fort Worth and Dallas as well once it is built, but it has to be built with public funding.

 

Of course Dallas to Fort Worth high-speed rail will not be worth it for Texas Central Railway and their partners to build the infrastructure - understandably, they just look at the tens of thousands of people commuting between Dallas and Houston daily, and want to capture that market, and make a profit (many might think that of course high-speed rail between Dallas and Houston will show operating profits, still to be profitable when also considering in the $10 billion of infrastructure investment made first might be more challenging).

So many might think Texas Central Railway and their partners made it clear repeatedly that they will not construct any Fort Worth to Dallas high-speed rail infrastructure, instead - to say it once again :)  - it would have to be built with public funding.

 

Here's a quote out of a newspaper article from a couple of months ago about the possible future Fort Worth-Dallas high-speed rail line:

 

 

 

“We have to put our big boy pants on and think of the entire state at one time,” said North Central Texas Council of Governments Director of Transportation Michael Morris.

If the high-speed rail is brought to DFW, the 200 mph train could get you from Fort Worth to Dallas in roughly 18 minutes. If you want to travel from Fort Worth to Houston your trip would be roughly 90 minutes.

Commissioners said the Metroplex, which is supposed to reach a population of 11 million by 2040, needs more options for transportation.

“You work hard because it’s important,” said Meadows. “It’s important for moving people of this region and this state."

 

source:

Plans Announced for High-Speed Rail to Houston
May 7, 2014

By Josh Ault

http://www.nbcdfw.co...-258316161.html



#8 Swadian Hardcore

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Posted 01 November 2014 - 09:32 PM

Why bother? When's it gonna get built anyway? I'm sick and tired of reading walls of text that don't really make a difference. You just got blocked, "beutifulplanet". I'm saving my IQ and my time!


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#9 beautifulplanet

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Posted 10 November 2014 - 03:36 PM

This is about the local rail connection in Dallas and connections to high-speed rail, so it also could be posted in the commuter/light rail forum. Still, as the developments are due to high-speed rail, here is a link to a report including a map of a possible future high-speed rail station and rail improvements in downtown Dallas:

 

Possible high-speed rail quickens Dallas transit plans

November 9, 2014

By Brandon Formby

http://www.dallasnew...ansit-plans.ece


Edited by beautifulplanet, 10 November 2014 - 03:37 PM.


#10 Anderson

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Posted 10 November 2014 - 05:11 PM

Looking at the map...well, at the very least it seems like while the HSR stop might not be at Union Station, a stop a block or two away wouldn't be the end of the world, and moving things a block or two for a lot of money probably wouldn't be worth it.  You'd still need an inter-station transfer, but this sort of one is eminently walkable.


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#11 Devil's Advocate

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Posted 10 November 2014 - 05:48 PM

Tokkyu40:
Agreed on the panhandles.  San Antonio is big enough to justify a connection, and that honestly seems more likely than not in the longer term (especially if the line can be run via Austin as well).  Beyond that...well, if the Mexicans kick in, a Monterrey/Laredo line might make sense if Mexico ever settles down.  The Mexicans do seem to want that line to happen.  Beyond that, though, the big cities in Texas are a long way from anywhere major.  Only Oklahoma City seems like it might work en route to elsewhere, and even that seems to be a bit of a stretch.


San Antonio's politicians are in the process of changing the city charter in order to permanently discourage future rail projects by adding new requirements and mandatory delays for passenger rail projects that no other form of transportation will be required to abide by. Is it possible for a city to prevent a state level project from being able to build tracks and/or stations within the city limits?

I'd rather be a glass half empty than a glass half fool.


#12 Anderson

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Posted 10 November 2014 - 11:59 PM

 

Tokkyu40:
Agreed on the panhandles.  San Antonio is big enough to justify a connection, and that honestly seems more likely than not in the longer term (especially if the line can be run via Austin as well).  Beyond that...well, if the Mexicans kick in, a Monterrey/Laredo line might make sense if Mexico ever settles down.  The Mexicans do seem to want that line to happen.  Beyond that, though, the big cities in Texas are a long way from anywhere major.  Only Oklahoma City seems like it might work en route to elsewhere, and even that seems to be a bit of a stretch.


San Antonio's politicians are in the process of changing the city charter in order to permanently discourage future rail projects by adding new requirements and mandatory delays for passenger rail projects that no other form of transportation will be required to abide by. Is it possible for a city to prevent a state level project from being able to build tracks and/or stations within the city limits?

 

A lot of that depends on a whole lot of legalese going on in a state that I'm not familiar with.  I could answer that question in Virginia (the short answer is that Richmond would have to sign on) and might have a shot in Florida depending on the circumstances, but not in Texas.  I'm also not sure what's actually being planned...if this is aimed at light rail, commuter rail, etc.  I strongly suspect that messing with light rail would be easier than screwing with an intercity project.


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#13 beautifulplanet

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Posted 14 November 2014 - 12:41 PM

One could think, there are so many rail-related projects going on in the Dallas area, that sometimes it may be difficult to stay ahead of it.

There is:

1) Texas Central Railways' privately built high-speed rail in the planning phase right now, Dallas to Houston.

2) Seperate from that, there are studies for what's called the DFW Core Express, so a future publicly built high-speed rail connection from whereever TCR's station in Dallas might be, to Fort Worth via Arlington.

3) And then, finally, there are plans for local rail improvements by DART (see labove), so regarding light-rail and streetcar in downtown Dallas (see this post above).

 

Some might have the impression, it was also difficult to seperate all of these things for the Dallas Business Journal.

To make it clear, public scoping meetings took place recently for 1) TCR's private high-speed rail Dallas to Houston (see first post in this thread).

In the next days, public scoping meetings will take place for 2) DFW Core Express, a possible future public high-speed rail connecting to TCRs, from Dallas to Fort Worth.

The exact times and places for the meetings are mentioned in the following Dallas Business Journal article:

 

Meetings will show stations, routes for Dallas to Fort Worth bullet train

November 12, 2014

By Nicholas Sakelaris

http://www.bizjourna...o.html?page=all

 

 

Here is the link to the official DFW Core Express website by the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT):

 

http://www.txdot.gov...re-express.html

 

 

 

 

In other news, 1) Texas Central Railways' high-speed rail in the planning phase right now, Dallas to Houston - recently got its first official opposition:

 

 

But at least one county is working to derail the project. Monday, Leon County approved a resolution protesting the railway.

Leon County Judge Byron Ryder says people in his area and neighboring counties are upset by the proposal for a number of reasons.

“It's not going to stop in Leon County, so it's not going to help Leon County whatsoever,” say Judge Ryder. “The other reason is that I've talked to two different appraisal people and they tell me without any hesitation that it'll definitely lower our property values because people are not going to move into the county if they're close to a high-speed rail."

Texas central railway is working with the federal railroad administration and TxDOT on an 18 month environmental study to see how it would impact communities. They hope to begin construction as soon as 2017 but will hold public hearings before they do.
 

 

source:

Area county opposes high-speed rail from Dallas to Houston

November 11, 2014

By Kristianna Gross

http://www.kxxv.com/...llas-to-houston



#14 Bob Dylan

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Posted 14 November 2014 - 02:02 PM

Typical attitude of rural politicians in Texas! We don't want any of that fancy modern stuff ruining our 1920s way of life!

Glad to see that "Conservative" Dallas
is going full steam on rail when " Liberal" Austin and San Antonio are turning into Anti- Rail/Public Transportation Cities!!

And people wonder why rural areas that arent within commuting distance to cities are dying!! ( see Kansas)

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#15 beautifulplanet

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Posted 14 November 2014 - 03:39 PM

Some might think it is encouraging to read what some people write about Texas Central Railways' high-speed rail from Dallas to Houston on the Dallas Morning News website, f.e.

 

 

Nicole LeBlanc, North Stonewall Terrace: The airlines won’t like it, but I think a high-speed rail network in Texas would be terrific. However, the terminus at both ends of any line must be where there is other public transit, at Union Station for Dallas. Building it is a pointless exercise if the entire journey cannot be completed using efficient public transportation to connect to the train station — both in Dallas and Houston, as well as in any city potentially served by a rail system like this. Dallas always has its eye on being a world-class city. Can you imagine not being able to take the Métro or bus to the Gare du Nord in Paris or the New York City subway to Penn Station?

 

And another statement:

 

 

James Thomas, East Dallas: Yes. The high-speed trains in Europe are awesome. The terminus should integrate seamlessly with the DART. Preferably at the existing Union Station.

 

Finally:

 

 

Will Springer, Lakewood: You bet. The Texas high-speed rail is a great idea and would be wonderful in promoting Texas pride. The terminals at each end should be in the center of Dallas and the center of Houston. This is a no-brainer. It would also be a stimulus for increased mass-transit use in both cities. Here’s an opportunity for Texas to hit a home run and show the nation how it can be done.

 

So at least some people in the Dallas metro area seem to like the idea of high-speed rail, and the idea of having a terminus in the Union Station area of downtown Dallas.

 

In order to view all comments, here is the link to the respective "Sounding Off" section of Dallas Morning News:

http://www.dallasnew...il-terminus.ece



#16 Anderson

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Posted 14 November 2014 - 08:12 PM

Typical attitude of rural politicians in Texas! We don't want any of that fancy modern stuff ruining our 1920s way of life!

Glad to see that "Conservative" Dallas
is going full steam on rail when " Liberal" Austin and San Antonio are turning into Anti- Rail/Public Transportation Cities!!

And people wonder why rural areas that arent within commuting distance to cities are dying!! ( see Kansas)

As has been noted before, a lot of this comes down to "who got started at the right time".  From what I can tell, in places where major transit stuff is up and running it's become pretty hard to block it all out, so those political figures who might be softly inclined against transit generally sit on those views to keep their jobs.  Thus, while Texas in general probably has an anti-rail bias built in, Dallas already has enough stuff up and running that said bias gets outweighed.


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#17 afigg

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Posted 15 November 2014 - 09:55 AM

But at least one county is working to derail the project. Monday, Leon County approved a resolution protesting the railway.

Leon County Judge Byron Ryder says people in his area and neighboring counties are upset by the proposal for a number of reasons.

It's not going to stop in Leon County, so it's not going to help Leon County whatsoever, say Judge Ryder. The other reason is that I've talked to two different appraisal people and they tell me without any hesitation that it'll definitely lower our property values because people are not going to move into the county if they're close to a high-speed rail."

Leon County, TX has a population of 16,800 and an area of 1081 square miles for ~16 people/sq mile. A HSR line is going to lower property values in the entire county? Yea, sure. But the Judge is being rather short-sighted. He should be looking at the jobs and money that building the HSR line will bring to his county. And the property tax revenue (if the HSR line doesn't get an exemption from the state legislature). The HSR line will need power stations and maintenance. Perhaps the backers of the HSR corridor can dangle the carrot of locating a power sub-station and a MOW crew station in his county. Won't be a lot of jobs, but with a population of 16.8K, even a few jobs count.

I'm encouraged by the quotes that the players in Dallas get it, that the HSR line needs to have a station in the city coreand be connected to the light rail system. Not everyone understands that. They think of HSR like an airport; the city HSR station can be way outside the city proper because that is where airports are (usually).

I'm also encouraged by the response in Dallas with the city planners looking to tie expansion of light rail with a 2nd line through the city center to the HSR plans. This time, the plans for a HSR corridor look real and not wishful thinking. The difference from the 1990s efforts is that Dallas now has a rail transit system for the HSR line to connect to. At 96K passengers/weekday, it is not yet a busy system for its 85 track miles and 61 stations. But an HSR corridor to Houston and Houston's starter stage light rail system could be a major boost to expansion and ridership growth of the transit systems in both cities.

I think we will see a similar effect in Miami with All Aboard Florida. The plans for the downtown AAF Miami station already appears to have helped to revive dormant plans for a light rail line to Miami Beach and prospects for expansion of the heavy rail Metro system.

#18 beautifulplanet

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Posted 15 November 2014 - 08:35 PM

Seems like some localities actually want Dallas-Houston high-speed rail close to them, in the hopes of possibly being able to build a future local station - as happened now with the census-designated place of The Woodlands, about 28 miles north of Houston:

 

The Woodlands courts high-speed rail route

November 14, 2014

By By Bridget Balch

http://www.yourhoust...db3c9c8873.html

 

 

The Woodlands would like Texas Central Railway (TCR) to reconsider regarding one of the original six route options, a corridor along I-45, which was dropped when only two alternatives were selected for detailed evaluation (see first post).

 

Here is an excerpt from the article:

 

 

 

The Woodlands Township Ad Hoc Transportation Committee saw this as an opportunity to submit the letter asking the entities involved to reconsider the Interstate 45 corridor, highlighting that the population of Montgomery County is projected to more than double to 1.1 million by 2040 and that TxDOT is expecting the travel time from Dallas to Houston to increase from four to six hours.

Furthermore, the township emphasized the positive impact that providing a commuter service from South Montgomery County and North Harris County to downtown would have on traffic congestion.

“This corridor has very promising rail commuter potential which could possibly more than justify the higher capital cost of this route,” the township’s letter says. “The Township believes that TCR is not against the IH-45 route or adding commuter rail services if it serves to enhance their business plan through a public/private partnership agreement.”

“Whether we would need to help fund, that’s still open,” added Director Mike Bass. “Their own economics may justify that station, so we shouldn’t necessarily jump in on that too soon. What’s important is we go ahead and build our case that the demand exists in South Montgomery and North Harris Counties.”

Bob Leilich, a retired transportation consultant, spoke to the board about how he believes commuter rail service would be a lucrative business move, as well as help address the mobility problems the city is facing.

“Houston is the largest city in North America that doesn’t have heavy rail transit,” Leilich said. “Mass transit works ... and we continually see in editorials and letters how traffic congestion is a problem. We talk about it and we don’t do anything about it.”

The township suggested building a station near where the Grand Parkway, Interstate 45 and the Hardy Toll Road intersect in order to service riders from east, west and north of Houston.

 

 

 

Here in the following, the original map with all alternatives, including the I-45 alignment The Woodlands would like to advocate for. The I-45 alignment in in orange in this map. The two alternatives that were selected for detailed evaluation were the BNSF Option 1 (in red), and the Utility Alignment (brown in this map below, orange in the map in first post):

tcr-board-alternatives-considered-octber

source:

http://dallashouston...s-and-pictures/



#19 beautifulplanet

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Posted 19 February 2015 - 07:14 PM

Recent news regarding Texas High-Speed Rail:

1) Two locations preferred for Dallas station

2) "Utility corridor" selected out of last two routes

 

 

 

1) Two locations preferred for Dallas station (though officially, all 7 locations are still under considerations and a final decision will be made in the summer)

635588114566735976-Rail-station-1.jpg

 

635588114566735976-rail-station2.jpg

source:

South of downtown Dallas preferred site for rail station

February 6, 2015

By David Schechter and Jason Whitely

http://www.wfaa.com/...texas/22972421/

 

 

Though some might think it is good how TCR stresses that these locations also leave open the door for an extended service towards Arlington and Fort Worth, some might also be wondering about the connections to local Dallas rail and bus service. Of course many may think it is great if transit-oriented development is created near the new station site, and that TCR wants to be close to downtown, versus some far-flung station in the suburbs, still it seems like the closest DART light-rail stop would be at the Convention Center, and still a significant walk away. So some might ask: In case the final destination of a rail traveler is not the TCR development itself or the Convention Center, how will a rail traveler be able to continue to the final destination, besides by car?

 

 

 

2) "Utility corridor" selected out of last two routes

 

 

Texas Central Railway told federal officials Tuesday that it wants to build on what's called "the utility corridor." It includes a large amount of right-of-way already used for utilities.

[...]

Houston Mayor Annise Parker said Tuesday's announcement gives her confidence that TCR will review her request to have the I-10 corridor be considered as a route.

"I was an early supporter of high speed rail for Texas and believe it can be a significant addition to Houston's transportation network. I look forward to continuing to work with the Texas Central Rail group to make it a success," she said.

 

The location of the Houston station was not announced by TCR yet.

 

source:

Texas Central Railway focusing on one route for bullet train project

 February 17, 2015

By WFAA

http://www.wfaa.com/...oject/23562365/



#20 cirdan

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Posted 20 February 2015 - 07:16 AM

 

 

Though some might think it is good how TCR stresses that these locations also leave open the door for an extended service towards Arlington and Fort Worth, some might also be wondering about the connections to local Dallas rail and bus service. Of course many may think it is great if transit-oriented development is created near the new station site, and that TCR wants to be close to downtown, versus some far-flung station in the suburbs, still it seems like the closest DART light-rail stop would be at the Convention Center, and still a significant walk away. So some might ask: In case the final destination of a rail traveler is not the TCR development itself or the Convention Center, how will a rail traveler be able to continue to the final destination, besides by car?

 

 

 

 

Isn't DART still studying a second cross-city line. Proposals have seen that running in front of the Convention Center. Maybe that line could be redesigned to take a detour past the HSR station as well?

 

However, I think an elevated structure above the tracks of the present Union Station would be a good idea, while solving all these problems.

 

EDIT: looking at the site on Google Earth, it seems there is actually a DART line passing right by the proposed site, so no problem there


Edited by cirdan, 20 February 2015 - 07:35 AM.





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