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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

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Nation’s first high speed rail awaits environmental review results

High+speed+Train
Photo by Graphic By: Frederica Shih
High speed Train

Future Texas A&M students could travel from campus to Houston or Dallas in a third of the time it currently takes, if a proposed high speed rail line between the two cities passes a pending government review.

 

Texas Central is a privately owned organization that plans to build a high-speed rail between Dallas and Houston with a stop near the Bryan-College Station area. Construction is slated to begin in early 2017, however the company’s plans cannot move forward until the state and federal government complete an environmental analysis.

 

Texas A&M’s proximity to the proposed stop-over could change the way some students commute to and from school to their homes or across Texas. The trains would travel up to 205 miles per hour, significantly cutting the travel time from the College Station area to Houston or Dallas.

 

Rebecca Cowle, Class of 2012 and outreach manager for Texas Central, said state and federal governments are currently reviewing the impacts the railway may have along its planned route.

 

“The FRA and Texas DOT [Department of Transportation] are studying the cultural and landscape effects, air quality and noise quality,” Cowle said. “Any aspect that makes up environment is being heavily studied.”

 

Texas Central will introduce a form of high-tech transportation never seen before in the U.S. According to their website, the rail technology comes from the Japanese high-speed rail industry, and would reach speeds up to 205 miles per hour.

 

Central Rail predicts many benefits for Texas if the rail line is approved and ultimately built. It would open many job opportunities and introduce the U.S. to a new version of public transportation. Mac Boles, Class of 2000 and rail advocate, said it would create a boom for the Bryan-College Station area.

 

“There would essentially be only three high-speed rail stops in the country, and B-CS would have one,” Boles said. “We’re talking boosted public awareness, ease of transport for students, parents, and faculty between the cities, efficient game day transportation, appeal to prospective students — the list goes on.”

 

There are ongoing studies on how to best connect the proposed station with areas like B-CS to offer advancement of future transportation and development. The current plan places a station about 20 miles away from Texas A&M.

 

“Our research indicated that there was strong local market support for a station to be located on the main line in Grimes County, designed to serve Texas A&M market, Madisonville, Huntsville and the greater Brazos Valley area,” said Tim Keith, chief executive officer for Central Rail, in an email.

 

Cowle said the biggest obstacle for Texas Central is it is proposing an entirely new idea of public transportation. Many Americans are unaware of the benefits when compared to a typical train.

 

“I think education is the biggest challenge to get that story out there of what a high-speed rail is,” said Cowle. “Currently, nothing like this exists in the U.S. so it’s hard to tell people about a concept they have never seen or experienced.”

As Texas Central awaits the approval for the environmental review, federal and state governments have designated a specific area of where the rail may be built; the Utility Corridor. Cowle said the company plans to build the rail along existing rights of way including interstates, freight rail corridors and power and utility corridors. Furthermore, Cowle said the rail will be built going under or over roads improving safety and allowing for regular traffic patterns.

 

Alan Paul, business administration freshman, is from Houston and said having the roughly 30 minute ride would dramatically change his college experience.

 

“It will encourage me to keep in touch with my family and have the opportunity to see them more often. Also, it will not only save time but a lot of money,” Hernandez said.

 

Michael Luepke, physics freshman, said he would be able to get home more often to see his family and friends. It would make it quicker to travel back since it would take approximately 45 minutes instead of three hours to drive.

 

As Texas Central builds the nation’s first high-speed rail system, Keith said it hopes to bring many benefits to the state.

“We are excited to provide Texans with a reliable, safe and environmentally friendly travel choice for generations to come,” Keith said.

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