The International Information Center for Structural Engineers

Tuesday, 18 February 2014 12:24cat

High-Speed Rail Line Planned for Houston and Dallas

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The high-speed rail line could be operational by 2021 The high-speed rail line could be operational by 2021 Texas Central Railway

Texas Central Railway President Robert Eckels discussed some of the preliminary details for a high-speed rail line between Dallas and Houston last week. The high-speed passenger rail system would take 90 minutes to go from one end of the line to the other, saving passengers around two hours compared to driving between the two cities. Texas Central Railway is a private consortium that is promoting the project. Unlike many other high-speed rail projects across the country, the project in Texas would not receive any federal or state money to build the project. This includes not being eligible for the part of the $8 billion federal grant created in 2009 to promote high-speed rail in the country. The Texas DOT received part of that funding when the grant was created. The project will cost roughly $10 billion, and it will be financed through private funding.

Currently, Texas Central Railway is performing environmental studies and discussing right-of-way acquisition with the Texas DOT. Eckels said that they plan to release their findings from the environmental studies soon, and they are continuing to receive public input about the needs of the rail system and how many people would use the driving alternative. Eckles cites the need to change peoples’ mindsets from feeling the need to drive everywhere to being comfortable leaving their car behind and using the high-speed rail system as one of the difficulties of the project that could determine the line’s success or failure. He hopes that the reliability of high-speed rail compared to automobile travel will be a major factor in a rider’s decision to take the train. If Texas Central Railway decides to move forward and formally begin the project, the environmental process will take roughly 18 months to complete.

Texas Central Railway will have a line map ready in 90 days. The consortium is debating three different routes for the track between the two cities. The system map will cover mostly flat rural area and all three routes still being discussed do not require any tunnels to be built. Construction on the line could begin as soon as 2016, and Texas Central Railway would like it to be operational by 2021. Once the line is complete, they will look into extending it to other cities such as Arlington and Fort Worth.

The rail line will use the Japanese made N700-I high-speed rail system used by Japan Central Railway. The company has been involved with the planning of the project so far, but will not be directly involved in its construction. The N700 system has been in service since 2007, and the trains can reach speeds over 200 miles per hour.  The system will allow trains to leave every 30 minutes during peak times. The N700-I is a special export version of the N700 trains being used in Japan. They normally operate with 8 cars, but they can run with anywhere between 6 and 16 cars depending on the passenger demand. Texas Central Railway is planning on having the trains hold 400-500 passengers per trip.

Sources: Impact NewsStar-Telegram

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