At the moment, the only high-speed train in the United States is Amtrak’s Acela, which zooms between Boston, N.Y. and Washington at eye-watering speeds of nearly 68 miles per hour. This is not wind-in-your-face eye watering, mind you; this is crying-that-it-doesn’t-go-faster eye watering.
But wipe your eyes, because high-speed rail is coming to the United States, slowly and sparsely. It is coming, though, so you might as well blow your nose, too.
The private company Texas Central Railway has announced that it wants to build a high-speed rail between Dallas and Houston, making the 240-mile journey in 90 minutes. Wall Street Journal reporter Tom Zoellner calls this distance a “sweet spot for revenue” because it’s in the 200- to 600- mile journey — just long enough to make getting on a train worth it, but not too long to drain one’s patience.
Travis Kelly, vice president of government relations for the rail company, told the Houston Business Journal that he envisions that by 2021, a fleet of trains carrying 400 to 500 passengers will make 34 round trips between Dallas and Houston each day.
They chose the Dallas-to-Houston route because not only would the line serve two large cities, but the land over which the tracks would be built is relatively flat.
“The Dallas-to-Houston market was really unique nationally in terms of the easy terrain to build it. Just 600 feet of elevation change so it keeps your construction costs low. No tunnels in our plans right now,” Kelly said. “We think it’s a really ripe market for high-speed rail.”
An environmental impact study of the proposed route is already under way, paid in full by TCR. The study will take approximately 30 months and if all goes well, construction could start in 2017.
The only other high-speed rail project in the works in the United States is in California, between Los Angeles and San Francisco, a 520-mile stretch of track that’s scheduled to be finished by 2029.
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