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A SUPERTRAIN for Texas?

It could happen.

The idea of high-speed rail is being pushed again in a big way in Texas, and backers hope to have $12 billion to $18 billion high-speed trains running by 2020. This time, they say they have taken care to ensure the idea won’t fall flat the way a bullet-train push did some 15 years ago.

“In the past, high-speed rail was not completed in Texas primarily because it was a top-down model driven by lobbyists out of Austin,” former Harris County Judge Robert Eckels, chairman of the nonprofit Texas High Speed Rail and Transportation Corp., told lawmakers at a Wednesday transportation briefing.

This time, he said backers from the consortium — which includes elected leaders, cities, counties and two airlines among others — reached out to past opponents to try to solve their concerns. Among them: Southwest Airlines, which fought the last high-speed rail project as a potential competitor. Southwest spokesman Chris Mainz said the airline is neutral on this proposal.

The high-speed trains — with an average speed of 200 mph — would run to airports, allowing rail to work in conjunction with airlines by ferrying in passengers catching longer flights.

[…]

The rail would run along the so-called “Texas T-Bone” — from Dallas-Fort Worth through Austin to San Antonio, and branching off in Temple to Houston. More than 70 percent of Texans live in the area that would be served.

Lawmakers and those pushing the project said it’s crucial to come up with alternative transportation since the state population is expected to reach 40 million to 50 million by 2040.

You know I love me some trains, and I’ll be happy to see this come about, if it really is possible. I don’t think I’d prioritize this kind of rail construction over commuter or light rail in urban areas, and even if I did prioritize this I’d be sure to continue pushing for urban rail transit so as to take full advantage of the network effect. But I’m still happy to see this sort of thing on the drawing board, and I hope it gains traction.

(SUPERTRAIN is a registered trademark of Atrios.)

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6 Comments

  1. Patrick says:

    Before they commit to this plan, particularly that route I think central Texas would be better served with a new larger airport. (ATT’s rapid departure from San Antonio due to lack of air links highlights the problem.) Id’ build it east of New Braunfels with high speed rail links to San Antonio and Austin.

    Combine that with some spending on a desalination plant on the Gulf and pipeline to secure a longer term non-Edwards aqufier water source to support growth in San Antonio.

    Lastly, I think Don E. Westlake and Earl W. Wallace may dispute Atrios’ trademark registration. They were the creators of a particularly bad TV show from 1979 on NBC entitled “Supertrain”.
    http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0078697/

  2. Charles Hixon says:

    Good, maybe they can lay the track on all that supercollider land. And if they register anymore trademark words like that, I’ll be speechless.

  3. Dale says:

    A fast train to Temple! I can’t wait!

  4. cb says:

    What a joke. Nothing like throwing some boondoggle project out there to line someone’s pocket. Before we start building statewide rail lines that the public is not demanding, why don’t we resolve urban transportation problems such as the completion of the light rail lines in houston.

  5. M1EK says:

    Patrick, nobody in Austin would want to go to an airport that far away. It’s been floated before and laughed off the table.

  6. The lesson learned from Florida and reason why FL governor Bush was against high speed train was the cost. The matching funds that FL had to provide for the project would have depleted funds for other transportation infrastructure such as highways.

    Personally I don’t understand why the two largest economic engines in Texas (DFW and Houston) cannot be connected directly via train. The idea to go via Waco adds 20 plus miles to the distance. Thus, in one hand we preach high speed and in the other we add 20 miles to the distance. 20 additional miles adds cost and travel time.