This is encouraging.
State transportation officials this week are unveiling early plans for a high-speed train line from Dallas to Fort Worth. Like Dallas Area Rapid Transit’s plans to expand transit service in downtown, the project is an attempt to take advantage of plans for a high-speed rail line from Dallas to Houston.
The Texas Department of Transportation for years has looked at possible high-speed rail lines across the state. None of those lines, including the Dallas-to-Fort Worth one, have funding. But officials have studied the possibilities and potential routes, which ideally would connect the state’s biggest cities and could eventually run from South Texas to Oklahoma City.
“These projects are part of a larger statewide network,” said Erik Steavens, TxDOT’s rail director. “You obviously want to see the network built out in a manner where it can be built out logically.”
The route and funding aren’t all the state has to figure out. There’s also the question of what type of train will run on the track. The state could have its own trains, or it could pay the Texas Central Railway to run its trains on TxDOT tracks so passengers from Houston could have a one-seat trip to Fort Worth.
Another key decision is picking and securing a station on the Dallas end of the line. The state wants to tie the line into a private developer’s planned line to Houston.
“It should be something where we have those tied together,” Steavens said.
For sure. It’s good to see that the Texas Central plan has already gotten people to think beyond it, because as with any transportation system a network is much better than a single route. Robert Eckels, the president of Texas Central High-Speed Railway, has already expressed his wish to see the Houston end of that line go on to Galveston. As for the South-Texas-to-Oklahoma-City idea, I haven’t heard much about that project since February but it’s nice to see someone is still talking about it. What else would be nice would be for something to emerge from the next Legislature to move the idea forward in some fashion. That’s clearly not a priority for Greg Abbott, but perhaps as long as there’s no formal opposition a bill or two could move forward. It’ll be worth keeping an eye on this spring.