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More on the Lone Star Rail District

The following comment was left on my earlier post about the Lone Star Rail District and its efforts to build a rail line between Austin and San Antonio, and I thought it was worth highlighting:

LSTAR is actually much further along than it was in 2009. In fact, the subject of the article was an update by LSTAR staff to City Council, which directed city staff at the conclusion of the presentation to work with LSTAR staff and consultants to identify ways to fund the operation and maintenance of the future system, with the goal of an agreement by the end of the year. Similar discussions will be taking place in Austin soon, and in each of the cities and towns up and down the proposed line.

LSTAR recently signed an MOU with the Union Pacific Railroad to study the relocation of UP’s “through” freight trains to a new alignment. This had been a major stumbling block in the past, as the volume of freight trains on the tracks that LSTAR proposes to use for the passenger service is too large to simultaneously support freight and passenger operation.

Right now, the passenger line is in the midst of its environmental studies (required by federal regulations), and the freight bypass line is just starting up the alternatives analysis (to identify the least impactful route between Seguin and Taylor). Although the District is not completely in control of the schedule (there are federal processes that could be short or long duration), it has targeted approximately 2 to 3 years for the finalization of the environmental process on both the passenger and freight lines. Final design and construction on both would come soon after.

Funding and financing are, of course, issues. But the purpose of concluding agreements with the District’s member cities and municipalities on local operations and maintenance funding are necessary to leverage federal loans and grants, and to attract private investment.

It was signed by Joe Black from Lone Star Rail. My thanks to him for the clarification.

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