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The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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High-speed rail advocates: B-CS still benefits

Frederica Shih — THE BATTALION
If proposed route stands, the new high-speed rail will not run through College Station.
Frederica Shih — THE BATTALION If proposed route stands, the new high-speed rail will not run through College Station.

Texas’ high-speed rail initiative took a step forward, but Bryan-College Station is left unsure of its place along the proposed route.
Officials at Texas Central Railway recommended a route in mid February for the high-speed rail connecting Houston and Dallas that places the rail’s sole stop-over 20 miles from College Station.
Local high-speed rail advocates say the stop-over’s proximity to Texas A&M could still reap substantial benefits if the rail is ultimately built and if the community finds a way to close the 20-mile distance.
Texas Central Railway plans to independently fund the rail project and expects to start operations in 2021. While Texas Central Railway recommends the current route, the rail’s ultimate path may change when a federal environmental review process is completed.
Travis Kelly, vice president of government relations at Texas Central Railway, said Texas Central Railway has identified the Utility Corridor as the best possible path to build the rail’s tracks.
“[The Utility Corridor] best satisfies the purposes and need of the project to provide safe, reliable and economically viable high-speed rail service between Houston and Dallas,” Kelly said. “It also supports the project’s goal to reduce the impact on communities and landowners by following existing rights-of-way as much as possible.”
The effect this route will have on B-CS residents will largely depend on what transportation infrastructure is developed along the 20-mile gap between B-CS and the high-speed rail stop, said College Station city councilman Karl Mooney.
“For a train traveling at 230 mph, it takes a long time to make a full turn,” Mooney said. “If the route came out of Houston and tried to turn into College Station, the additional land [Texas Central Railway] would have to buy and the slower speed the train would have to travel would defeat the purpose of a high-speed rail.”
Mooney said there are ongoing discussions to eventually build a spur route connecting College Station to the main train.
“A spur train might connect College Station to the main tracks and travel back and forth while coordinating with the bullet train,” Mooney said. “By the time we could actually have any kind of formal fixed service, we would probably be looking around 2025.”
Mac Boles, Class of 2000 and high-speed rail advocate, anticipates a more immediate response to the transportation problem between Madison County and B-CS. He expects tourism and transportation businesses in the area will revamp their strategies to better cater to passengers of the high-speed rail.
“It will be particularly interesting to see how the area around the midway stop will be appropriated by taxi services, hoteliers and future rail connections between the stop and the immediate B-CS area,” Boles said.
Even though the train is projected to run outside the B-CS area, Allan Rutter, research scientist at Texas A&M Transportation Institute, sees various transportation advantages for students and residents alike. Rutter said the rail could open up employment opportunities for local students and residents, and could provide a more convenient way to travel to and from a Dallas or Houston home during peak transportation seasons.
“For the northbound trip to Dallas, a speed-time advantage may be attractive enough, as would the opportunity to work along the way,” Rutter said. “Even for southbound trips to Houston, the train may offer time advantages during peak congestion periods.”
Kelley said even though the current route for the train has been largely identified and preferred, there are still factors to consider before Texas Central Railway finalizes any decisions.
“[Texas Central Railway] is making substantial progress…including work toward selecting a final station location in Houston as well as a mid-Texas station serving Bryan-College Station and Huntsville,” Kelley said. “As with the ultimate station location in Dallas, critical factors will be determined by the project’s environmental review process, which is still underway.”

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