That other high speed rail line update

Keep on moving.

Transportation planners in North Texas continue their efforts to bring high-speed rail to the area, a system that would link Dallas and Fort Worth via Arlington and push south to Houston.

The North Central Texas Council of Governments held a public meeting Monday at which its planners detailed the status of high-speed rail in the region as well as the status of efforts to control air quality problems that have affected DFW for decades.

High-speed rail could be a reality in coming years, but success requires the completion of separate high-speed rail projects designed to connect, forming a system of travel from Arlington or Fort Worth to Houston with no need to change trains.

Last year, Texas Central Partners and Amtrak announced a plan to jointly study forward motion on a long-planned high-speed rail line to Houston.

“Texas Central, a private company, has been advancing that project and, even more recently, Amtrak seems interested in joining them in that project, continuing to advance the Dallas-Houston corridor,” Council of Governments Program Manager Brendon Wheeler said at the meeting.

The Council of Governments said it is moving ahead with plans to bring high-speed rail service to the Interstate Highway 30 corridor, connecting Fort Worth and Arlington to Dallas and a planned high-speed rail line south to Houston emanating from Dallas.
Wheeler said that high-speed rail projects under review include more than just the route to Houston.

“You have a planned study that TxDOT initiated several years ago, and then COG and several other metropolitan planning authorities along the route in Austin, San Antonio and Waco all the way down to Laredo advanced even further,” he said. That route could utilize other high performance lines such as magnetic levitation, or maglev, trains and high-speed rail.

Maglev systems of rail transport are levitated by electromagnets, thus eliminating rolling resistance of wheels. It is known to reach higher speeds than high-speed rail.

“Our study would look to connect all of these projects into a single system where they’re not simply corridor based, not just going from say Dallas to Houston or forward to Austin, but you’re able to create what the Regional Transportation Council calls a ‘one seat ride,’ where you go from Fort Worth to Houston on the same train,” Wheeler said. “You don’t have to get off this and get to a new station or get to a different train. You stay on the same train.”

Wheeler said the same thing applies if you’re coming from Dallas, Fort Worth, Austin or San Antonio — you stay on the same train. But don’t expect it to become reality soon.

“These projects take a long time to plan, to build — decades,” Wheeler said.

Tell me about it. As noted before, this project and the adjacent one to go south and also possibly north from Fort Worth have been around for awhile. The Dallas-Fort Worth line has also acquired most if not all of the right of way it needs and has some environmental reviews completed, too. If Amtrak can get the Texas Central line back on track, we could really have something here. Eventually.

(And now I’m daydreaming about a similar line here in the Houston area that maybe goes from Baytown to Katy with a stop in downtown, and also trying to figure out how to connect it to the proposed Texas Central station at 610 and 290. Don’t wake me up.)

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