Today we’re going to wrap up our look at a hypothetical Texas-High Speed Rail system by tying together the middle. We’ve already looked at the how a privately operated high-speed system could start as a regional rail service in the Houston region, and how the Austin/San Antonio and Dallas/Fort Worth regions could be served by similar foundational lines. Now we’re going to see how these regional lines can interconnect and form a more complete system.
The mini-triangle region is one of the most economically interesting parts of Texas, and the potential for major development activity to occur there is one of the biggest reasons why I prefer this route over the other proposals that I’ve come across.
Consider the basic anchors:
When we think about the resources that exist in the state’s three largest cities (Houston, Dallas and San Antonio) the benefits of creating high-speed transportation links to these destinations are obvious. Some of the biggest economic wins would include:
Lastly, there’s another huge economic benefit to building rail through Central Texas – it provides an alternate growth opportunity for the state. Where the “Big 4″ cities are already highly developed and highly spread-out, rapid rail connections create the opportunity for two important growth drivers:
Note on the second point: Because the train operates at a different speed from the automobile, these places are not just new hubs for sprawl – they’re outside the practical driving radius of the employment centers they are connected to. The train station becomes the primary connection to the rest of the state, and the automobile takes a secondary role for traveling to smaller destinations. This is basically the model that created the first generation of small towns in Texas (and the US as a whole). Places that we love, like Brenham, Fredericksburg, and Georgetown all grew up in this fashion – and with the right infrastructure we could grow new places of the same quality and lasting value.
So what does this all look like on a map? Take a look.
The stations with white outlines represent major stations that all the trains would stop at, and the smaller stations are ‘regional service only’ stops.
So the all-important question remains: How fast are we talking about?
To get between any of the major cities in Texas, direct high-speed service could take under two hours. As has been debated and discussed in many of the previous posts in this series, this is all dependent on building a system that is designed from the start to achieve this kind of high-speed service. It isn’t necessarily simple or easy, but it’s absolutely possible.
So with that we’ve come full circle on this series. We’ve looked at the major routes for High-Speed Rail in Texas, and we’ve examined the regional links that make up the foundation for a statewide system.