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Old 07-13-2009, 11:19 PM
 
4,333 posts, read 7,133,716 times
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I know it's been discussed before, but today I heard an interview on the radio, and thought I'd resurect the topic than the post. So, on the ride home today, I listened to Robert Eckels on the radio, a former judge in Harris County (Houston), who created a non-profit group to address high speed rail in Texas. It was an interesting interview. This group was created in 2002 I think.

The name given to the system by the non-profit is T-BONE, it would connect Austin, San Antonio, Dallas and Houston in the form of a T, hence T-BONE. It will also server other cities, but those are the main destinations.

The current administration has ear marked 10 Billion dollars for high speed rail, and Texas has the ears of the administration. Did you know the US, the most advanced country in the world, has no high speed rail lines? Of course, more advanced airlines have filled the gap, but with fuel prices going up, carbon taxes that are coming, and decline in revenue to the government for funding road building, it only makes it seem inevitable that the country will look to efficient rail in the future, powered by electricity generated by nuclear power.

Unfortunately for Texas, it is doing great compared to other states, so the likelyhood of getting much accomplished is not too great right now. On the other hand, Texas can begin to do some of the work itself, perhaps making it easier to get "shovel-ready" funds.

Anyway, I thought it was interesting, and thought I'd pass the link along to anyone interested. As some of you may recall from some of my posts, my wife is from Spain and so we go there frequently. I've been on the fast trains, they are amazing. Not as fast as flying, but not too bad either. Imagine going from El Paso to San Antonio in less than 3 hours, or Houston to Austin in less than an hour, or Dallas in two hours.

Those who've been to Europe and through the Chunnel know what I mean, but those who have not, but may be in Europe, try to get a train from London to Paris on the Eurostar to experience it.

Sorry for the long post, here is the link:

THSRTC | Welcome!
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Old 07-13-2009, 11:22 PM
 
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T-Bone? How very Texan. They should serve steak on the trains.

I think there's a place for both HSR and airline service. The latter can be used for longer distance travel (e.g. coast to coast)
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Old 07-14-2009, 12:09 AM
 
Location: Austin, TX
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The sad part is that high-speed rail connecting Texas cities makes so much sense, with its big population centers and easy geography to cover. But the talk has been going on for at least 2 decades, and nothing has even started. So when I read these plans, I put absolutely no faith in them. I suspect they'll never come to fruition, and if they do, it will likely be 5o years down the road.

I'm just not sure Texas is the place where any huge publicly funded project (federal or otherwise) can happen. Also, with 3 of the world's largest airlines based in Texas, there is substantial private industry interest in keeping the cities from being connected by rail.

Anyway, I hope I'm wrong. I really do. But don't get your hopes up.
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Old 07-14-2009, 12:36 AM
 
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Took the Europeans about 7 years to finish 300 miles. That does not include the planning. It would probably take much longer here. Let's say 10 years for the rail from Houston to Austin. You still have Austin to Dallas / Dallas to Houston left. High speed rails are extremely costly as well.
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Old 07-14-2009, 01:04 AM
 
Location: houston/sugarland
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Houston is still in awe and amazement at the 7mi. rail line that connects DownTown to Medical Center.

And Houstonians are really excited about the large expansion of MetroRail lines that are beginning construction in 2011.

So I would give it about 10 to 15 years before even planning begins on a project as massive as this.
But there are alot of plusses... there is nothing but flat land so building it shouldnt be a big problem.

And about Car emissions... I think it's better to divert the funding to have an increase in public transportation within the Houston area than to connect the cities... Because more people tend to move around the city than drive over to Dallas, Austin or SA.

But it would be great if I could hop a train to Dallas or SA and get there within 2-3 hours.
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Old 07-14-2009, 01:10 AM
 
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This project is a lot bigger than Houston, EE.

Quote:
Originally Posted by EEstudent
But it would be great if I could hop a train to Dallas or SA and get there within 2-3 hours.
Yes, that would be pretty cool actually.
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Old 07-14-2009, 06:38 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Keks View Post
Took the Europeans about 7 years to finish 300 miles. That does not include the planning. It would probably take much longer here. Let's say 10 years for the rail from Houston to Austin. You still have Austin to Dallas / Dallas to Houston left. High speed rails are extremely costly as well.
You can't compare labor in Europe to the US when it comes to these infrastructure projects; just about every single trade in Europe is unionized, and work hours dictated to by the government, and road construction is state run. There are no bond referendums, all money comes form the government. There are no bonuses/incentives for finishing early, on the contrary, the unions make sure work is slow to guarantee them jobs.

On the other hand, if you like that, the current administration is attempting to acheive that same environment here in the US.

Last edited by HookTheBrotherUp; 07-14-2009 at 07:35 AM..
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Old 07-14-2009, 12:16 PM
 
Location: Austin, TX
6,840 posts, read 10,715,196 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by HookTheBrotherUp View Post
You can't compare labor in Europe to the US when it comes to these infrastructure projects; just about every single trade in Europe is unionized, and work hours dictated to by the government, and road construction is state run. There are no bond referendums, all money comes form the government. There are no bonuses/incentives for finishing early, on the contrary, the unions make sure work is slow to guarantee them jobs.

On the other hand, if you like that, the current administration is attempting to acheive that same environment here in the US.
Overall a project like this would proceed much faster in Europe. Where they could complete 300 miles over difficult terrain in just 7 years (which is really quite fast, just look at construction timelines for much shorter light rail lines in Dallas or Houston), here in the states it would be more like 15-20 years. In Texas, 20-50 years. It's not so much about the labor restrictions or unionization, it's about the political roadblocks and relatively low power of the federal government in the states (more so in Texas).

Even the Trans-Texas corridor, which was really more politically suited to Texas, failed quickly. With the state government in charge along with private companies, there was enough money to divert so that pretty much all the small time politicians controlling the right-of-way could be converted. Deals with the airlines were more likely, as the state could be a little more friendly to their interests. Still, we heard endless complaints of a state land grab, it was terribly unpopular, and it ultimately fell apart... A federal land-grab would be 10 times more unpopular.

I just don't think it's going to happen. Not in this lifetime. But it's fun to dream.
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Old 07-14-2009, 12:20 PM
 
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Well, people clamor for land grabs to build more freeways so they'll think they're getting to work faster. As long as it's not their land the state's grabbing, of course.
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Old 07-14-2009, 02:06 PM
 
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I would have loved that when I was in college and going from Austin to Houston often. It would still be pretty cool, especially if there were other rail lines to get you around town once you arrived in your destination.
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