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From the Cypress Creek Mirror on 1/29/14:


It may not be moving at high-speed yet, but Texas Central Railway has reached a new milestone with federal and state regulators to advance its plans for a privately-funded bullet train between Greater Houston and the Dallas/Fort Worth Metroplex.

TCR plans to integrate rail system technology by JR Central Railways of Japan, including its N700 bullet train. At 205 miles per hour, the train could travel between Dallas and Houston in 90 minutes.

TCR President Robert Eckels said the company is nearing agreement with the Federal Railroad Administration and Texas Department of Transportation to begin its environmental impact study for the project. Construction on the new rail system could begin in about two years, and, if the financial pieces fall into place, TCR hopes to make it operational by 2021, he said.

The study will be privately-funded by TCR, Eckels told transportation-minded citizens attending the Houston-Galveston Area Council’s Brown Bag Lunch Series on Monday, Jan. 20. For that reason, it’s likely TCR’s project can be built before other potential public rail projects.

Hmmm, I wonder what public projects he had in mind when he said this. ;)

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HSR in Texas...hahahahahahaha! Bubba don't ride no commie trains.

Shhh, don't let the Japanese hear you!

 

To be fair all they have to do is keep it "privately funded" in the media and then work out several billion dollars in tax incentives and they're golden. Texans are blind to subsidies so long as they are provided to a for profit company after the fact.

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Most of these things get studied exhaustively or worse before anything happens. We hear of the wonders of how fast things happen in other parts of the world, but that is not really true for the most part. We just do not see or hear about the studies that happen in those places before the dirt starts moving and the concrete starts being poured. The only possible exception wold be China but there are tow major differences that do not apply to any of the other places where high speed railroads are being built. First, they are a dictatorship, so when the powers that be say jump, everybody says yessir and asks "how high?" on the way up. Second tehy ahve been building significant milages of ordinary railroads for quite a few years before they started building high speed lines. Third, some of the lines being described as high speed, such as the one where they had a collision last year, or was it the year before?, are not truly high speed, but ordinarly railroads on which the high speed trains make part of their trip. Taiwan may have started construction in 1999 and started running trains end to end in 2007, but the first published study I have seen was dated in the late 1980's, so the thought certainly went back well before then. Thus, you have something above 20 years, and likely 30 plus, for a place where there was sufficient finance to build it and the existing railroad carried significant passenger traffic between all the points on the route of the high speed line, the parallel end to end air service had saturated the airport capacities, and the distance was near ideal for high speed rai service, so there was an unquestionable demand.

 

Dallas Houston is also close to a natural line for high speed rail service due to distance, travel demand, and the possibility of building about as low cost as system as possible for these things.

 

What could be or should be considered is the route that carried the Texas Rocket and Sam Houston Zypher. 250 miles in 4 hours flat in the 1940's and 50's.It is a BNSF secondary freight line that they might be willing to see, and is all still in place except the approach to Houston Union Station.

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George,

When this first came up, I think the consensus was that they'd probably be able to pick up the BRI ROW for this. They might opt to alter the approach/station location at either end regardless. Of course, they'd probably need to straighten out some chunks of the route (and might get pushed into rerouting around one or more towns), but the route looks mostly workable now.

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George, glad to see you finally agree with me on the route. I am with Jim Hudson on this. I will believe it when I see it. lol. In 2021 I will be 81 if I am still here so I really don't give a hoot.

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Guest Eugene Small

So the Feds are going to be involved? Really! Where is the Lie? It has been said: 1)Will Be in Texas(no other state involved) 2) will have dedicated tracks ( not connected to national Rail network) 3) Strictly private funding (means no Federal or state,county or city monies)

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Unfortunately, federal authority is needed for a lot of things that it wouldn't seem to be needed for. A lot of this is due to environmental permitting and things like that. Basically, even a 100% private project on existing right-of-way has to clear a bunch of federal red tape before it can happen. Some of that red tape does make sense, but some can be utterly bewildering.

 

The other point on this is that usually "no federal funding" is often used to mean no federal grants. An RRIF loan, which would have to be paid back, sort of weasels around this insofar as the federal government doesn't "cut a check" like they do with a lot of highway projects, for example...they make a loan that has to be paid back.

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George,

When this first came up, I think the consensus was that they'd probably be able to pick up the BRI ROW for this. They might opt to alter the approach/station location at either end regardless. Of course, they'd probably need to straighten out some chunks of the route (and might get pushed into rerouting around one or more towns), but the route looks mostly workable now.

The solution to this is so easy, it's laffable. Get SWA "on board" with this. They can control the timetable, the livery scheme, hell, whatever they want. THIS (TCR) becomes Southwest's "much lower cost" feeder mode to Luv Field and IAH.

 

The politics of rail travel "go away", and the great citizens of Tejas would be able to say "See, private enterprise is thee way to go........."

 

Now, perhaps the tricky part is enticing SWA to touch this thing with a ten foot pole. But "Hey" Amtrak is still operating after 40+ years, so miracles can happen!

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High-speed rail gaining momentum in Texas

Support for 220-mph bullet trains in North Texas is on the fast track.

On Thursday in Austin, appointees from Fort Worth, Arlington and Dallas were approved as members of a high-speed rail commission, which is led by former Fort Worth Councilman Bill Meadows.

And in Houston, Fort Worth Mayor Betsy Price, Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings and Houston Mayor Annise Parker gathered to show unified support for high-speed rail....

The high-speed rail commission is overseeing the state’s role in a proposed high-speed rail line that would connect Houston, Dallas, Arlington and Fort Worth — with the Houston-Dallas connection possibly opening in 2021.

 

 

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Three mayors endorse high-speed rail project between Houston, Dallas-Fort Worth

Late last week, the mayors of Houston, Dallas and Fort Worth, Texas, jointly announced their support for a high-speed rail route between the cities as promoted by the Texas Central High-Speed Railway.

This announcement marks the first time that the three cities have come together to back a project that will mutually benefit each municipality, the mayors said in a press release.

Texas Central High-Speed Railway is a private, for-profit Texas company working to bring a high-speed rail route between the three cities. The company is working with Central Japan Railway....

Nearly 50,000 Texans travel back and forth between Houston and Dallas-Fort Worth more than once a week on Interstate 45 each day. Traveling between the two cities takes about four hours, but the Texas Department of Transportation has projected that commute to increase to close to seven hours by 2035....

As Texas Central High-Speed Railway continues to work on the privately funded high-speed rail route, an effort has also been set in motion to extend high-speed rail service from Dallas through Arlington and into Fort Worth. As part of that effort, the Texas Transportation Commission last week appointed members of the North Texas High Speed Rail Commission to find innovative ways to build a high-speed rail system between the three points.

 

 

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Conspicous by their Absence are two Texas Cities that are the 7th and 11th Largest Cities in the Country, San Antonio and Austin! :o

Every time this scheme has come up before it has included the Texas Triangle which would be Houston/DFW/San Antonio/Austin!

 

Based on what is happening with Land Values in Texas and the growth occuring not to mention that UP Controls most of the Rail Routes in Texas (BNSF also is a Player), I would venture to guess that unless the Federal and the State (read Austin)Governments become Involved as Heavy Investors that this is just Another Pipe Dream on the Part of Financial Hustlers, Boosters and Scam Artists!

 

I'm from Missouri on this one! Talk is Cheap, it takes Money to buy Whiskey! ;)

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Conspicous by their Absence are two Texas Cities that are the 7th and 11th Largest Cities in the Country, San Antonio and Austin! :o

Every time this scheme has come up before it has included the Texas Triangle which would be Houston/DFW/San Antonio/Austin!

 

Based on what is happening with Land Values in Texas and the growth occuring not to mention that UP Controls most of the Rail Routes in Texas (BNSF also is a Player), I would venture to guess that unless the Federal and the State (read Austin)Governments become Involved as Heavy Investors that this is just Another Pipe Dream on the Part of Financial Hustlers, Boosters and Scam Artists!

First, the most likely route between Dallas and Houston is on a BNSF line, the former BRI line which is about as straight as any route in the state. It is realtively lightly used and the end points are connected by another BNSF route, the former AT&SF, so it may be that BNSF would be willing to sell this line outright.

 

Second, this line would be about as cheap to turn into a true high speed route as any in the country.

 

Dallas - Ft. Worth - Austin - San Antonio are conspicuous by their absence because this route will be anything but low cost. Thre is much more development along the way. The current rail routes are much less direct and straight. There is no potential redundancy there. The cost per potential passenger would be far higher. It could well be a good second rute when the ridership FTW-DAL-HOU proves the demand is there changing the overall attitude to the concept.

 

I regard it as far better to pick off what has potential for construction and operational success and do it rather than chasing and all or nothing dream.

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Well, the other thing is that HOU-SAS could be added. Austin would be missing, yes...though running the line roughly Huntsville-College Station-Austin-San Antonio would be another possibility which would save a full DFW-AUS-SAS line, not to mention avoiding the addition of two lines to also cover HOU-SAS.

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Current San Antonio <> Austin traffic is surprisingly heavy. People actually commute between these cities but the route is so clogged that even a six lane highway can't handle it. Partly due to growing populations in each city and party due to the areas between these two cities slowly merging into a long continuous line of suburbs. There used to be a dead spot between Austin and San Antonio but that seems to have disappeared over the years. I only travel this route on weekends because on weekdays it's so slow that it becomes almost unbearable. I doubt you'd need a high speed rail line to make this portion work. 110MPH would be enough if it was dependable and had several daily and nightly departures. San Antonio to Houston or San Antonio to Dallas would probably need faster speeds to be appealing to average travelers because at that point you're also competing with airlines. You'd need well placed stations near the important tourist areas as well as easy access to sports arenas and theme parks. It's not an insurmountable goal but it would require a lot of coordination.

Edited by Devil's Advocate

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Well, the other thing is that HOU-SAS could be added. Austin would be missing, yes...though running the line roughly Huntsville-College Station-Austin-San Antonio would be another possibility which would save a full DFW-AUS-SAS line, not to mention avoiding the addition of two lines to also cover HOU-SAS.

Well, almost all HSR projects in the world were so succesful and popular that the opposition there was before they were built decreased and support increased leading to further extensions. So just because something is not in the initial blueprint, there is no reason to assume it will never be done. On the contrary, the best ambassador for further HSR is a line that's up and running.

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(1) My thinking in the Huntsville split is that doing so would limit the number of miles of track that would be needed to serve all the main markets in the region effectively.

(2) It does seem possible that a Kodama-type service in the San Antonio-Austin area might make sense to handle "commuter-style" traffic.

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Austin - San Antonio:

 

Yes this would be an excellent candidate for an interurban type service. HOWEVER: For it to be practical there would need to be full double track with quite a few sections of third track. It is a fairly busy freight route right now. There would need to be track grades otherwise plus some curve adjustments and as many grade separations as can be managed. All this says not cheap. Ther ahs been talk about a freight bypass to the east that would get all the through freight off this line. That would be a very good thing to enable reliable passenger service.

 

With all this the cost has been the show stopper.

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San Antonio and Austin are so close I wonder if they could get away with a line from Houston just branching off into both San Antonio and Austin.

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(1) My thinking in the Huntsville split is that doing so would limit the number of miles of track that would be needed to serve all the main markets in the region effectively.

(2) It does seem possible that a Kodama-type service in the San Antonio-Austin area might make sense to handle "commuter-style" traffic.

 

Actually Anderson, a better option might be to use the old MKT line out of Houston that goes to San Antonio via San Marcos. There you could do the split to Austin. Going via Huntsville is way off the track. Using the MKT line, which is owned by UP but lightly used, would keep these trains off the UP's Glidden main between Houston and San Antonio(NOL to LAX). You would have to re-build a row from Katy into Houston. But if we are talking true HSR an elevated row over I10 would work just fine. And they have to build a new station in Houston anyway for the Houston to Dallas trains.

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The TCR project has received approval from the FRA to begin the EIS process. Dallas Morning News: Dallas-to-Houston high-speed rail review set to begin following feds’ OK today.

As expected, the Federal Railroad Administration has given the thumbs-up to an environmental impact statement concerning a long-proposed Dallas-to-Houston high-speed rail line. The FRA, in conjunction with the Texas Department of Transportation, will conduct the EIS on behalf of the privately operated Texas Central Railway, which promises a 90-minute trek from Dallas to Houston (by 2021, give or take).

 

The EIS will study various route alignments, including “shared corridors with other existing linear infrastructure corridors such as railroads, roads, and electric utility lines.” Also, says the FRA, it will “analyze the potential impacts of stations, power facilities, and maintenance facilities to support HSR operations.” The review could take some time — several months, say transportation officials, and possibly longer than a year.

 

Come on, the EIS study process is going to take a year or longer. The reporter should do a little research, EIS studies for a major infrastructure project on new and acquired ROW are not done quickly. Even in Texas.

 

Service by 2021 is just the teaser date to keep the politicians interested. I think this HSR corridor can get built, but not by 2021.

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I agree. A year (or two) for a focused EIS is believable; a few months simply is not. A date like 2025 (11 years out instead of 7) seems more plausible, assuming a reasonable amount of red tape cutting and an ability to dispatch stupid lawsuits.

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Either way my money is on this project never reaching completion. Texas has plenty of rich NIMBY's, half of whom couldn't care less about passenger rail.

How about Dallas Light Rail, Houston Light Rail, having a huge expansion under way, Dalllas-Ft. Worth commuter trains, Denton area light rail? I wish all you Texas haters would put a sock in it. It is getting rather tired. It seems that anay chance that can be had is used as a soap box to get up on and shout anti-Texas nonsense.

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Either way my money is on this project never reaching completion. Texas has plenty of rich NIMBY's, half of whom couldn't care less about passenger rail.

How about Dallas Light Rail, Houston Light Rail, having a huge expansion under way, Dalllas-Ft. Worth commuter trains, Denton area light rail? I wish all you Texas haters would put a sock in it. It is getting rather tired. It seems that anay chance that can be had is used as a soap box to get up on and shout anti-Texas nonsense.

 

I didn't realize it meant that much to you George. I've seen a lot happen in this state over the last three decades. I've even been a part of it from time to time. I've seen projects worth billions felled by a few determined individuals. Sometimes for better and sometimes for worse. Then again I can't claim to be the world's foremost expert on every topic that interests me. It's entirely possible that I'm wrong but my money says this project will not come to fruition. Then again I've only lived here thirty years so what do I know. Feel free to put your money wherever you please and best of luck on your return.

Edited by Devil's Advocate

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How about Dallas Light Rail, Houston Light Rail, having a huge expansion under way, Dalllas-Ft. Worth commuter trains, Denton area light rail? I wish all you Texas haters would put a sock in it. It is getting rather tired. It seems that anay chance that can be had is used as a soap box to get up on and shout anti-Texas nonsense.

Yes, one big difference from the 1990s when previous efforts to bring HSR to Texas failed is that Dallas and Houston now have the core of a local rail transit system. Dallas's system is further along in size and development, but they provide local rail systems for the TCR to connect to for a larger customer base. If TCR gets funded and started on construction, it should have a synergy effect of advancing plans for expanding the light rail systems in both cities. Business and political leaders can be sold on the idea of people taking the light rail to downtown to travel on HSR to Dallas or Houston.

 

The CA HSR system will connect San Francisco with an extensive regional transit system to LA, which is in the process of building one. The first round of true HSR corridors in the US should have one or more anchor cities with good local and regional rail systems. So LA to SF and Dallas to Houston are arguably the best candidates for the first HSR corridors, outside of the NEC (depending on whether one considers the NEC to be true HSR or not). That was a weakness of the Florida HSR plans starting with Tampa to Orlando.

 

BTW, the exception for local transit systems to anchor an HSR corridor line would be Xpress West as Las Vegas with its concentration of casinos and as a destination for southern CA puts Vegas into a different category.

Edited by afigg

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