Texas Central Railway

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Anderson

Conductor
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Nov 16, 2010
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To be fair, in a number of cases since we're "starting fresh" (or close enough to it) we can avoid some of the mid-trip stub-end-station issues that come up...but there are some cases where it can't be helped (e.g. transiting NYP from PHL-ALB). In a number of European countries, I think part of the issue is dealing with having inherited constricted/stub-end stations. Also, there are a few cities (London, Paris) where you have "lots of terminals and nothing runs through" (London is slowly working through this; Paris...not so much).
 

cirdan

Conductor
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Mar 30, 2011
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Also, there are a few cities (London, Paris) where you have "lots of terminals and nothing runs through" (London is slowly working through this; Paris...not so much).
Actually, I am under the impression that Paris has done much more to relieve the situation than London.

For suburban services there is the RER which is basically a collection of inherited suburban lines that have been interconnected by a series of (mostly) new-build tunnels going under the heart of Paris, meaning that suburban trains that start in say the northern suburbs can run through into the southern suburbs while making several stops in the deep heart of Paris. Of course there are still quite a few suburban trains that do end in the old terminus stations, but you can't really compare this to London where there is only one line that runs through and where there will soon be a second, but even after that opens the vast majority of commuters and the vast majority of terminus stations will remain unaffected.

For Intercity trains the picture is similar. In London I cannot think of one single Intercity train service that serves London without terminating there. There was at one time talk of running trains from places like Manchester and Birmingham through to Paris, and the terminus of Eurostar was moved from Waterloo to St Pancras for this purpose, but the rest of the plan was not followed upon and probably never will be, at least not within the next 20 or 30 years.

In Paris, a high speed by-pass was built in circa 1990s serving Charles de Gaulle airport, and there are now numerous TGVs that connect cities in the north to cities in the south. Even seasonal trains from London.
 

neroden

Conductor
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Feb 23, 2014
Messages
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What happened to the judge's decision last spring saying Texas Central was not yet a RR ?
Contradicted a ruling that it was a railroad from a different lower court, so they're going to appeals court. I am quite certain Texas Central will win; the ruling claiming it wasn't a railroad because it wasn't up and running yet has no basis in law, as most of the 19th century railroads who used eminent domain weren't up and running when they used it.
 

me_little_me

Conductor
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Jul 16, 2010
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3,109
The Man is seat 61 says the following about forward-facing seats: (you'll have to scroll down to the section on how to reserve forward-facing seats.)

"I know from experience that American visitors in particular (if you'll forgive me for saying so) are obsessed with facing forwards. Europeans less so, as we are used to trains with half the seats facing one way, half the other, and we know that it's no big deal as trains run smoothly on rails - think cruise liner restaurant, where half the diners are going backwards at 18 knots without noticing!"

I think that if Americans want high speed rail, they're going to have to get used to the possibility of sitting facing backwards. :)
For some, like my wife, riding backwards is nauseating. When we traveled in Europe and reserved seats, it was interesting trying to explain to some agents that we wanted to sit side by side facing forward for that reason. Of course, that was in the old days of wooden ships and iron men!

On our Brightline trip, we had to get the ticket agent to change our seats.
 
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John Bredin

OBS Chief
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Dec 18, 2007
Messages
707
The Rail Passengers Association (ex-NARP) reported Friday that a group of GOP legislators with support from an anti-rail group are attempting to have U.S. DOT pull the regulatory rug out from under the Texas Central, using the coronavirus emergency as a fig-leaf for their general desire to kill the project.

Hopefully, RPA is correct that it's a hail-Mary pass, as these yahoos have failed in their efforts so far, but it sounds like this matter hasn't been as high as the desk of the Sec'y of Transportation until now. Considering who's Chaos's Chao's husband -- Mitch McConnell, obstructionist extraordinaire -- I wouldn't be so sanguine.

RPA Hotline containing story.
 

Devil's Advocate

Conductor
Joined
May 24, 2010
Messages
11,373
Texas Centeal wins a very important Appeals Court ruling which stated that it is legally a railroad. This ruling overturned a lower court ruling.
This is good news but the anti-rail lobby will never give up and there are more appeals and delays where this came from. Texas Central had to layoff 28 staff in response to the pandemic while the anti-rail lobby has expanded to 28 zero-tolerance legislators undaunted by any setbacks and salivating over the chance to kill high speed rail in a newly purple state still dominated by cowboy logic, severe gerrymandering, and rural favoritism.

Texans Against High-Speed Rail [...] released a statement saying the couple intends to appeal to the state supreme court. [...] The court win comes as Texas Central scaled back its current staff in the state, citing the effects of COVID-19 on global economies. Critics, including Rep. Kevin Brady, R-The Woodlands, said reducing staff demonstrated the project — long assailed by rural residents who say it will ruin their way of life — was losing momentum.
Link...

In two separate letters to U.S. Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao, 28 state lawmakers and two members of Congress said work by the Federal Railroad Administration on the Texas Central Railway project — which has faced stiff opposition for six years even as Dallas and Houston officials showed support — should stop entirely.
Link...
 
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cirdan

Conductor
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Mar 30, 2011
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Contradicted a ruling that it was a railroad from a different lower court, so they're going to appeals court. I am quite certain Texas Central will win; the ruling claiming it wasn't a railroad because it wasn't up and running yet has no basis in law, as most of the 19th century railroads who used eminent domain weren't up and running when they used it.
Yes, this would seem so obvious. Makes you wonder why the court didn't see it that way. Surely any lawyer who had done minimal preparatory research should have spotted that argument and brought it up.
 

Bob Dylan

Conductor
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May 31, 2009
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Yes, this would seem so obvious. Makes you wonder why the court didn't see it that way. Surely any lawyer who had done minimal preparatory research should have spotted that argument and brought it up.
Texas has LOTS and Lots of Lawyers, in other words Lots of Bad Lawyers, especially in the Courts here.( they're Elected and Politics is what matters, not Legal Competence.)

Our Supreme Court is noted for always siding with Corporations so the Texas Central should prevail.
 
Joined
Jan 16, 2020
Messages
12
It appears that the FRA published the FEIS for the Texas Central project

 

jadebenn

Train Attendant
Joined
Jun 23, 2018
Messages
17
Hey, we finally get some unredacted ridership projections!

EIS said:
As estimated by the proprietary market demand study undertaken by TCRR, the projected HSR ridership in 2029 is 6.4 million passengers per year. The 2029 forecast year is provided to assess initial operations since this reflects the third year of operations and considers initial introduction and market adoption. The long-term forecast for HSR ridership in the Future Build 2040 analysis year is 9.9 million passengers per year.
Those numbers are incredibly high for an American train service but... kind of low for an HSR service of this caliber?

I dunno. Maybe they're just being conservative, but this route would absolutely cream every other HSR route in the world when it comes to average speed (and it wouldn't do bad on peak speed either). I'd personally think that'd drive more ridership.
 
Joined
Jan 16, 2020
Messages
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Hey, we finally get some unredacted ridership projections!


Those numbers are incredibly high for an American train service but... kind of low for an HSR service of this caliber?

I dunno. Maybe they're just being conservative, but this route would absolutely cream every other HSR route in the world when it comes to average speed (and it wouldn't do bad on peak speed either). I'd personally think that'd drive more ridership.

I spent some time in the Houston area a while back and knew some people who would commute for two hours each way, going from one side of Houston to the other. You would think this service would attract some daily commuters between the two cities, but maybe I'm underestimating Texans' love for sitting in traffic.
 

me_little_me

Conductor
Joined
Jul 16, 2010
Messages
3,109
To drive more ridership, you’d need more people to want to be in Texas. Few are so crazy.
I worked in El Paso for 12 years and lived in southern NM even though I had to pay income taxes (none in Texas) on my Texas income.
I may have pushed people in wheelchairs onto the tracks and throw rocks at the poor but I did have some morals. I'd NEVER become a Texan.
In fact while spending 10 years in the military stationed in NM, I considered myself to be defending the United States from the barbarians just to the east.
 

Bob Dylan

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May 31, 2009
Messages
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I worked in El Paso for 12 years and lived in southern NM even though I had to pay income taxes (none in Texas) on my Texas income.
I may have pushed people in wheelchairs onto the tracks and throw rocks at the poor but I did have some morals. I'd NEVER become a Texan.
In fact while spending 10 years in the military stationed in NM, I considered myself to be defending the United States from the barbarians just to the east.
funny we feel the same about Okies and people from California! lol
 

Anderson

Conductor
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Nov 16, 2010
Messages
9,564
I have not read the report yet… I will get to that later this evening… but I believe those numbers really depend on connectivity at the endpoints. On the Dallas end, that looks good. Houston leaves something to be desired.
 

20th Century Rider

Lead Service Attendant
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Jan 26, 2020
Messages
356
I have not read the report yet… I will get to that later this evening… but I believe those numbers really depend on connectivity at the endpoints. On the Dallas end, that looks good. Houston leaves something to be desired.
If the Texas Rail is to succeed, the connection points at city centers need to be convenient for incoming passengers to step across the track and get the local to just about anywhere. Dallas has this but as you can see in the pic below, Houston's Amtrak Station is in an industrial wasteland.

Screen Shot 2020-06-07 at 7.08.11 AM.png
 

20th Century Rider

Lead Service Attendant
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Jan 26, 2020
Messages
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In contrast, Dallas Amtrak is well connected with local rail and is surrounded by hotels, restaurants, parks, and a vibrant downtown... passing through there last year on the Texas Eagle I decided this would be a great vacation destination town; as is San Antonio. Also note the transit map below... Dallas is a forward thinking city!

Screen Shot 2020-06-07 at 7.29.30 AM.png

dallas-downtown-map.png
 

Bob Dylan

Conductor
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May 31, 2009
Messages
19,760
Plus you failed to mention that Houston has some of the worst traffic in the Country,the poorest Public Transit and some of the worst Polution to go along with a terrible Climate.
 

joelkfla

Train Attendant
Joined
Oct 16, 2018
Messages
95
If the Texas Rail is to succeed, the connection points at city centers need to be convenient for incoming passengers to step across the track and get the local to just about anywhere. Dallas has this but as you can see in the pic below, Houston's Amtrak Station is in an industrial wasteland.

View attachment 17759
I don't think that would be a deal killer.

If the HSR is efficient and otherwise convenient, people would be willing to use taxis, Uber, or Lyft for the last mile.

And if there's some existing local transit hub, and the government doesn't step up with a connector, a local charter bus operator might deem it worthwhile to start up a shuttle service.
 

20th Century Rider

Lead Service Attendant
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Jan 26, 2020
Messages
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Two other forward thinking cities with impressive light rail systems are Denver and St. Louis. In both cities the Amtrak station is downtown and light rail is adjacent; as are eating places and hotels. Both cities struggled with urban renewal and deserve an applause; In the photo below you can see a St. Louis light rail station located near Amtrak; which takes you to the old restored St. Louis Union Station; fun place with shops and hotels. I lived in St. Louis for 30 years; went to grad school at Washington University and taught in the public school system. They really worked hard at rebuilding!

Screen Shot 2020-06-07 at 1.53.12 PM.png
 

20th Century Rider

Lead Service Attendant
Joined
Jan 26, 2020
Messages
356
I don't think that would be a deal killer.

If the HSR is efficient and otherwise convenient, people would be willing to use taxis, Uber, or Lyft for the last mile.

And if there's some existing local transit hub, and the government doesn't step up with a connector, a local charter bus operator might deem it worthwhile to start up a shuttle service.
Good point... we need positive thinking to keep the momentum of urban renewal going strong!
 

cirdan

Conductor
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Mar 30, 2011
Messages
2,378
In contrast, Dallas Amtrak is well connected with local rail and is surrounded by hotels, restaurants, parks, and a vibrant downtown... passing through there last year on the Texas Eagle I decided this would be a great vacation destination town; as is San Antonio. Also note the transit map below... Dallas is a forward thinking city!

View attachment 17760

View attachment 17761
I guess to be fair here, that Dallas had it easier. Dallas Union Station had thru running tracks rather than requiring a reversal as in the old Houston station. Some of the tracks in Dallas are still used by UPRR for freight and so I guess the station was less at risk of being abandoned than at Houston. It is still sad that the grand old building in Houston is no longer is used as a station, but I guess at least it survives and is cared for, which is more than can be said of many grand old stations. The location would have been ideal today, with the rebirth of downtown and the proximity to the convention center and other popular downtown venues. Better situated than Dallas even. But I guess what is gone is gone and the clock cannot be turned back.

There was at one time a plan in Houston to relocate the Amtrak station to somewhere by UH downtown university, which would have created a direct interchange with the Red Line. It is a pity that plan was never followed up. But I expect that in the longer term, the success of downtown Houston will spill over and the area around the present station will be upgraded too.

In terms of light rail, of course the DART system is much bigger and serves more places. But Houston's system is not bad either, and apparently has one of the highest per-mile ridership's of any US light rail system. At least as far as the Red Line is concerned.

I agree that it is a missed opportunity that Texas Central are not seeking to connect to any existing passenger rail system on the Houston end. But on the other hand, building a station and the approach line in any location where that would be possible would cause the costs to balloon and possibly kill the project. Dallas is a special situation making it easy.
 

Devil's Advocate

Conductor
Joined
May 24, 2010
Messages
11,373
Good point... we need positive thinking to keep the momentum of urban renewal going strong!
Positive thinking is fine but it's positive action that creates momentum. Personally I wish there was more information from RPA members (and similar groups) helping us to understand what is at stake this week/month and what we can do to help support their pro-rail initiatives and defend against anti-rail attacks. I receive general information by email but having a more open dialog with insider resources could be helpful for generating interest and understanding how to improve our effectiveness.
 
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