American Airlines And Southwest Stymie Dallas High-Speed Rail?, Ctd.

Some think yes. Most say no.  After the jump, three informative comments:

Commenter 1. Once upon a time Southern Pacific (Texas & New Orleans) whisked Dallas residents to Houston in something like three hours, city center to city center. All of Europe has great intercity train service. Europe also has a very robust airline system. I love Southwest, but they are misdirecting their lobbying efforts.

Commenter 2. I disagree, AA seems to be on board with the high speed rail plan, because the preliminary plan is to have the HSR station AT DFW Airport. Which would be great for AA’s business.

Commenter 3. I believe that American and Continental have already participated with the Texas High Speed Rail and Transportation Corp in discussions on passenger rail in Texas. Our grassroots non-profit group has met with them before. They have some support from cities, counties, some politicos and the like but have not been able to get a toehold so far. Legislation friendly to them was shot down in the session that just ended. They are after trains that go 200mph and up.
There is also another fledgling group, Triangle Railroad Holding Company now being formed along the same lines. One of the architects of the failed attempt in the early 90’s is behind this push. His name is Hal Cooper and he heads up an engineering company in the Seattle area.

We think that “reasonable rail” is a good way to start passenger service in Texas while we wait a couple of decades for some entity to roll out bullet trains. Just make slower trains go faster. Take the existing freight railroad network and add a second track with upgraded rail bed, high speed passing sidings, better signaling,  and eliminate dangerous at-grade highway crossings and freight rail choke points and you can upgrade for a fraction of the cost of a “high speed line”. We would be talking 90-110 miles per hour service on existing track. Kind of like how trains in Texas ran up to the 50’s and 60’s. Passenger trains on freight railroads today are limited to 79 miles per hour in most areas so Amtrak’s lone daily Texas Eagle to Austin and San Antonio just inches past highway traffic part of the way when railroad speeds allow that fast a run.

Updated stuff: TxDOT is coming up with plans to create a Rail Division, something we have been pushing them toward for many years. They did a presentation to the Tx Transportation Commission a couple of weeks ago. Once that gets formed, then we can start planning for passenger service statewide. The legislature passed a bill that directs TxDOT to create a statewide rail passenger network plan. Finally, it’s not the old highway department anymore.

Best guess is that the I-35 corridor gets the first crack at passenger service. No threat to Southwest there. Those intermediate stops at Waco and Temple aren’t being served well right now by the regional jets.

More on our website: www.texasrailadvocates.org

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