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Location, location, location

At the first public meeting about the proposed Dallas-Houston high speed railroad line, the main focus was the endpoints.

More than 100 people were in attendance on Tuesday for the first of six public meetings being held jointly by the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) and the Texas Department of Transportation on Texas Central Railway’s plan. The FRA is leading a federally required environmental impact study of the proposed project, which aims to connect Dallas and Houston in 90 minutes or less with Japanese-manufactured trains traveling at more than 200 miles per hour.

At the meeting, federal officials revealed some details on the leading routes and station locations under consideration, though they said everything was still subject to change.

[…]

Attendees who spoke at the meeting were almost universally focused on where the rail stations will end up. FRA officials did not reveal the exact addresses of station locations but did offer up areas being considered. For both Dallas and Houston, the locations included spots in each city’s downtown as well as some several miles outside of them.

Most speakers stressed an interest in seeing the Dallas station at or near downtown’s Union Station, where it could seamlessly connect with other public transit, including the city’s light rail.

“Union Station is the opportunity for high-speed rail to engage with our area,” Dallas City Councilman Lee Kleinman said.

Ken Dublé of Dallas said putting the station downtown will make more sense if the rail line ends up becoming one piece of a larger system.

“We need to be able to think past Houston and Dallas and think to the day when we’re going to want to extend it to Oklahoma City,” he said.

No Texas Central Railway officials spoke at the meeting, though company officials did speak with attendees and reporters before and after the hearing.

Travis Kelly, the company’s vice president of government relations, said Union Station was likely “too built out” for the train to have its station there, but he added that five other downtown Dallas locations were under review. He said the company considered potential ridership demand a central factor in selecting station locations, but that other issues — such as the company’s ability to develop land around a station — were also playing into its decisions.

Dallas resident Paul Carden stressed the need for the train to go “from downtown to downtown.” If the company ends up choosing a spot too far outside of downtown Houston, he said, he would probably drive or fly instead.

“I’m more concerned about the Houston side than the Dallas side,” Carden said after the meeting. “I hope they don’t underestimate what I think would be induced demand just by having a route that goes to downtown Houston.”

See here for the background. I can’t speak to the Dallas station options, but downtown is the only place that makes sense for the Houston end. It’s centrally located, it’s where a lot of business travelers would want to wind up anyway, and it offers connections via light rail to Midtown, the Medical Center, Rice University, UH, and maybe someday if the Unversities Line ever gets built, to Greenway Plaza and the Galleria/Uptown area. There are also potential commuter rail connections that would extend the network of the Texas Central Railway line even further. Sure, people want to go places other than downtown, but no other place offers all of these benefits for a rail station. It just makes sense. Hair Balls has more.

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One Comment

  1. BillK says:

    One of the reasons for High speed rail is as an alternative to flights between Houston and Dallas. A line runnign from Love Field (Which is very close to Downtown Dallas) to Houston Downtown to Hobby would be ideal.