More on Amtrak and Texas Central

Some good followup in the Chron on the question of Amtrak pushing the high speed rail line in Texas.

With Amtrak taking the reins, for now, of a Texas bullet train project, here’s some of the issues that will determine whether what’s been discussed in the past becomes the future way for thousands to travel between Houston and Dallas, at a probable cost of more than $30 billion.

Amtrak is studying the project, and if it is financially feasible, Amtrak officials might propose the high-speed rail as part of their long-term strategy.

At this point, it is identical to the project proposed by Texas Central Partners more than a decade ago that relies on Japanese-designed Shinkansen bullet trains running along new tracks mostly following an electrical utility corridor between a site on the southern edge of downtown Dallas and the current site of Northwest Mall at Loop 610 and U.S. 290 in Houston. A stop is planned in the Roans Prairie area near Bryan-College Station.

Trains would take about 90 minutes to make the roughly 240-mile trip, which would make it the fastest way to get between the metros if you factor the additional time needed to arrive for airline flights.

Over the next few weeks, potentially months, Amtrak will continue studying the economic and environmental realties of high-speed rail between Houston and Dallas, using everything compiled by Texas Central Partners.

“We are taking our time to look through the cost estimates,” [Andy Byford, senior vice president of high speed rail programs for Amtrak] said.

That viability needs to be considered post-pandemic, he said, when early analysis indicates less business use for the train but more leisure use by visitors who might want to travel easily between Texas cities.

“The business case is stronger than ever,” Byford told rail conference attendees, saying later “I really do think it is viable.”

See here and here for some background. The rest of the story addresses issues like whether Texas Central is still a thing (on paper, at least, but not much more beyond that), whether Dallas and Houston are still all in on it (Dallas is, Byford hasn’t talked to Mayor Whitmire yet), acquiring the land (some is already bought, the rest will be bought or eminent-domained as needed, as before), whether public funds would be involved (almost certainly yes, which is not the original vision Texas Central pushed, not that I care at this point), and whether the opposition is still opposed (oh yeah, for sure). Read the rest for the details.

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2 Responses to More on Amtrak and Texas Central

  1. GMcK says:

    With Aurora getting ready to put self-driving trucks on I-45 later this year, can assisted driving cars that let you work on your job instead of spending your attention on watching traffic be that far behind? Yes for now, but by the time the trains are running, the Level 3 Mercedeses will have their top speed up to 75mph, and Ford and Cadillac will probably be upgraded from L2 to L3 as well. The “super commuter” equation will have gotten a lot tougher.

    Even under the best rider assumptions, the financing picture only makes sense if interest rates go back to near zero (not likely), or if the Amtrak analysts are allowed to consider the alternative, the cost of adding another lane to I-45 between Huntsville and Richland/Corsicana. Has TXDoT even started planning for that?

  2. Pingback: Amtrak is going hard for the high speed rail line | Off the Kuff

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