High-Speed Rail project's success will be dramatically limited due to station locations
This morning, the Texas Association of Railroad Passengers (TEX-ARP) sent a letter to Ronald L. Batory, Administrator of the Federal Railroad Administration, voicing its serious concerns regarding Texas Central Partners' Dallas - Houston high-speed railway corridor project. In this communication, the organization reiterated its basic position: without substantive changes in the proposed station sites, TEX-ARP cannot and will not offer unqualified support for T.C.P.'s project.
The proposed railway passenger service is intended to provide a 200 mile-per-hour, 90-minute trip between Dallas and Houston. Today, the journey typically requires four hours via Interstate 45 (presuming no traffic delays) and is a trip approximately 50,000 Texans take at least once every week.
Interestingly, over 80 years ago, conventional passenger trains were making this same trip, with intermediate stops, in four hours. Currently, Amtrak does not offer any direct service between Texas' two largest metropolitan regions.
"Texas Central Partners' planned Dallas - Houston high-speed train line could close a significant gap in the national railway network," said Garl B. Latham, President of the Texas Association of Railroad Passengers (TEX-ARP). "Instead, by failing to directly serve existing station sites in both Dallas and Houston, convenient connections to numerous intercity, commuter and local transit operations will remain an elusive dream. A service which might have provided increased connectivity throughout Texas and the great southwest will end up being little more than an inter-regional shuttle."
TEX-ARP strongly supports the concept of intermodalism, available only when shared terminal facilities are created and truly seamless connections are maintained. This approach requires T.C.P. to bring their trains all the way into both downtown Dallas and downtown Houston, establishing high-speed infrastructure adjacent to tracks and platforms already in use by other operators of rail-based passenger service.
"Here in Dallas, the former site of Reunion Arena would be an ideal location for a high-speed railway facility, offering direct passenger interface with existing DART, Trinity Railway Express and Amtrak services, as well as easy access to Dallas' convention center," Latham said. "The reason Dallas citizens purchased Union Terminal almost 45 years ago was to make the depot available for just this sort of future! To deny our city the proper use of its heritage is an unconscionable thing."
Houston also has a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity before it since the U.S. Postal Service, through the abandonment of its main post office downtown, has once again made the original footprint of Grand Central Depot (Southern Pacific station) available for railroad use. This site is adjacent to Amtrak's existing stop on Washington Avenue.
Without convenient mass transit and intercity services nearby, Texas Central Partners will be consigning riders to motor vehicle connections at both terminals and, in the process, dramatically reducing the utility of its proposed operation.