Dallas-Fort Worth Bullet Train Gets The Cold Shoulder | KERA News

Dallas-Fort Worth Bullet Train Gets The Cold Shoulder

Nov 20, 2014

Transportation officials are traveling the state talking about a proposed bullet train that would whisk travelers from Houston to Dallas in 90 minutes. That plan has gotten a warm reception, but an additional line between Dallas and Fort Worth generally got the cold shoulder at a meeting Thursday night.

Bullet train meetings made the west-east circuit this week, with public sessions in Fort Worth and Arlington.

On its final stop in Dallas Thursday night, no one spoke in support of a Dallas to Fort Worth high-speed train with a stop in Arlington. Railroad car salesman Brian Tindle said the 35-mile distance is just too short and impractical for a bullet train.

“Is it really going to be that high speed when it starts getting into Fort Worth?” Tindle asked. “The speed’s just not going to be there. Is the juice worth the squeeze?”

Brian Tindle sells railroad cars and knows trains. He says a bullet train connecting Dallas, Arlington and Fort Worth doesn't make sense.
Credit Bill Zeeble / KERA News

At a meeting last month about the privately funded Dallas to Houston train, Al Taylor was full speed ahead. On Thursday night, when a D-FW line was the subject, he put on the brakes. He pointed out that there’s already a D-FW train, the Trinity Railway Express.

“For 1/3 or 1/4 the money, you could upgrade the TRE,” Taylor said. “Even put a spur from Centre Port down to Arlington.”

Financial manager Bryan Slaton said more tax dollars shouldn't be spent when DART and the TRE already soak up millions in government subsidies.

Bryan Slaton reads statistics from his smart phone to support his assertion that "Texans don't want" bullet trains.
Credit Bill Zeeble / KERA News

 “Texans don’t want it,” Slaton said. “The numbers show it. People don’t ride rail in Texas. We’re too spread out. The numbers aren’t there to show a need. This is about pet projects.”

Michael Morris says the numbers are there. The transportation director for the North Central Texas Council of Governments sees a D-FW high-speed line fitting into a Texas  network of bullet trains connecting San Antonio, Austin, Houston and North Texas.  

“Just imagine here -- our region’s going to be 10 million by 2040," Morris said. "Houston’s probably similar. Austin-San Antonio complex is, I guess, probably eightish. You’ve got 28 million people all connected by a seamless high speed rail system.”

Morris said the numbers are so good, private investors are, for the first time, sinking millions into the proposed Dallas to Houston line. 

But the D-FW bullet train would need government  money. Thursday’s meeting didn’t touch on funding. It just presented possible routes and sought public input. After six possible alignments, two are recommended: one along Interstate 30, the other along the TRE line. Next month, the Texas Department of Transportation and the Federal Railroad Administration will jointly determine the next steps.