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Financing the Dallas to Houston high speed rail line

The way things are going, this could get built before the final pieces of the 2012 Metro Solutions plan.

Like this but with fewer mountains

If high-speed rail comes to North Texas by 2020, the bullet trains will initially rely on the area’s road system — not public transportation — to get most of the riders from the end of the line to their final destination, an official said.

“We do think that for the first few years the system is in operation, the collector-distributor system will largely be highways,” said Robert Eckels, president of Texas Central Railway, which wants to build a line featuring trains running every 15 to 20 minutes from Dallas-Fort Worth to Houston.

“The mass-transit systems aren’t built out to handle the kind of transit they have in Tokyo, but that will come in time.”

On Thursday, Eckels briefed the Regional Transportation Council about plans to bring 200-mph trains to North Texas, possibly by 2020, in a partnership with Central Japan Railway Co., which operates bullet trains connecting Tokyo, Nagoya and Osaka.

The company is seeking roughly $10 billion in private investment to build the estimated 240-mile line, and it will not seek federal or state money. Eckels stressed that $10 billion is an early estimate. Depending on factors such as the location of the Dallas-Fort Worth station, the cost could be much higher, or even lower.

See here, here, and here for some background. Dallas and Houston are just far enough apart to make the drive unpleasant and inconvenient, but once you factor getting to and from the airport and going through security, there’s not much gained by flying. That’s the main reason why a high speed train connection has always made sense. Surely those poor souls who commute between the two towns would love to have this option. But it has to be done right, and I think this is a mistake to be avoided:

Within the Metroplex, it’s still not clear where a station should be. Many elected officials favor putting a hub in or near Dallas/Fort Worth Airport or the CentrePort development just south of the airport.

I say that having the terminals in or near the destination city centers will be a big advantage for the rail line. Even at top speed, this train will take longer to get from Dallas to Houston, but if you don’t have to spend a half hour or more at each end getting to and from the terminal as you do with the airport, that will make total travel time much more favorable for the train. I agree the transit infrastructure isn’t there yet at either end, but it will be, and when it is you don’t want to be stuck with one terminus out at D/FW Airport. Whoever it is that favors this now really needs to give that some more thought. Dallas Transportation has more.

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