Full Speed Ahead On High-Speed Trains In Texas? | KERA News

Full Speed Ahead On High-Speed Trains In Texas?

Jan 29, 2014

Fans of high-speed rail in Texas, take note.

The Texas Transportation Commission could vote Thursday on creating a high-speed rail commission focused on Dallas-Fort Worth, the Texas Tribune reports.

In addition, starting this week, the Texas Department of Transportation is holding public meetings around the state to hear from people about a study looking at the feasibility of high-speed rail projects between Oklahoma City and South Texas. A meeting is scheduled for next week in North Texas.

No decisions made

Texas Transportation Commissioner Victor Vandergriff told the Tribune that the two initiatives should not be interpreted as a decision by TxDOT to develop any high-speed rail projects in the state.

“We have not yet discussed a broader charge with respect to transportation policy and funding,” Vandergriff told the Tribune. “The Legislature sets our course for that.”

A TxDOT agenda states that the new high-speed rail commission will advise state transportation officials on “the development of intercity rail corridors, new transportation policies, and funding and procurement strategies as they relate to the implementation of proposed high-speed rail connecting the Dallas and Fort Worth areas.”

There's interest in a rail line that serves Dallas, Arlington and Fort Worth.

Dallas to Houston in 90 minutes?

There have also been discussions about a private high-speed rail line that would take passengers from Dallas to Houston in 90 minutes. Learn more about this bullet train from KERA’s Shelley Kofler. (It would be faster than any train operating in the United States. Passengers could start boarding in six years.)

Texas Central High-Speed Railway is expected to file federal documents in April that will include more details about the project, including the preferred route, the Tribune reports.

The Federal Railroad Administration is participating in separate environmental impact studies on a Dallas-to-Houston high-speed rail project and a Dallas-Fort Worth project.

The Tribune reports:

TxDOT launched its Texas-Oklahoma Passenger Rail Study last year to take a wide-angle look at the impact of potential rail service projects between Oklahoma City and the Texas-Mexico border. This month, TxDOT officials announced plans to expand the scope of the study south, to Monterrey, Mexico, to account for interest in building a high-speed rail line between Monterrey and San Antonio.

TxDOT Rail Director Erik Steavens predicted the study would guide future efforts to develop various passenger rail services with the potential to serve millions of passengers along a route that stretches more than 800 miles.

“I think this is a landmark, historic watershed moment,” Steavens said. “What we’re going to be doing is having discussions with people on how do we implement segments of this plan that can work with either a governmental agency or the private sector.”

Public meetings

TxDOT is hosting public meetings in six Texas cities to hear thoughts about the study. A meeting is scheduled in Arlington at 11:30 a.m. Feb. 5 at the North Texas Council of Governments, 616 Six Flags Dr.