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Dallas-Houston high speed rail update

The people working on this sure do sound optimistic, even if what they’ve got is still basically vaporware.

A trip from Houston to Dallas could take travelers 90 minutes if former Harris County Judge Robert Eckels, president of Lone Star High Speed Rail, is successful in connecting the state’s two largest urban regions with a high-speed rail.

Eckels spoke to members of the Cy-Fair Houston Chamber of Commerce mobility committee Sept. 1 about the plausibility of constructing a high-speed rail between the two regions, which have a combined population of nearly 7 million.

LSHSR is affiliated with U.S.-Japan High-Speed Rail and its partner, Central Japan Railway Company, which created the N700-I Bullet train that travels at 200 mph and will take passengers between Dallas and Houston when the rail is complete, which could be by 2020.

The corridor between Houston and Dallas was selected for the first high-speed rail line because nearly 93 percent of the land in between the two cities is rural and flat, and there are few stops in between, Eckels said.

LSHSR is studying several routes between Dallas and Houston for where the rail line will go, but the selection will come down to where there is right-of-way, land already granted for transportation purposes.

“The goal is to be as close to the current rights-of-way as possible,” Eckels said.

LSHSR is currently considering engineering, public outreach and funding factors related to the project. The rail line will be, in large part, funded by the private sector in Japan. The cost of the project is approaching $10 billion, but will ultimately reflect where the rail line ends, whether it is in downtown Houston, near the Galleria, or near Beltway 8, Eckels said.

We first heard about the possibility of Japanese companies investing in a Texas high speed rail line a year ago. Eckels had previously been the Chair of the Texas High Speed Rail and Transportation Corp before moving over to LSHSR in March. I wish them all the best in getting this done. I also wish that Houston’s light rail system – you know, the 2012 Solutions plan – is fully built out by then. Check back in a decade and we’ll see. Thanks to Houston Tomorrow for the link.

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