High-Speed Rail to Stop Short of Downtown Houston

The latest plan for the Texas Central high-speed rail line would stop trains well short of downtown Houston. Transit advocates are displeased with the change of plans.
November 28, 2015, 7am PST | James Brasuell | @CasualBrasuell
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"The area around U.S. 290 and Loop 610, anchored by Northwest Mall, is likely to be the end of the line for a proposed Houston-to-Dallas high-speed passenger train," reports Dug Begley. The implication there is that the proposed high-speed rail line will not come into downtown Houston, as once considered as a possibility.

"The Federal Railroad Administration has eliminated from consideration both paths that would have carried the trains to Houston's central business district," according to Begley. The decision not to bring the route into downtown is justified for the cost savings associated with avoiding the density and infrastructure in the downtown area. Begley surveys local voices on either side of the issue of bringing the trains into downtown, and also notes that the new "landing zone" for the line will likely provide a catalyst for growth in the Northwest Mall area.

Count Eric Jaffe of CityLab as one of the supporters of bringing the train into downtown. He wrote a column that describes the Federal Railroad Administration's decision to stop the route short of downtown a "troubling step back" after months of positive news.

Here, Jaffe lists some of the reasons why a downtown route might be preferable:

  • "For one thing, it means HSR riders will have to connect to another mode of transportation to reach downtown Houston. At the moment, though, no such connection exists." 
  • "More broadly, conventional wisdom holds that HSR stations function better for city residents when they’re located downtown. That point was emphasized in a recent report by Eric Eidlin of the U.S. Federal Transit Administration on best practices from around the world."
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Published on Thursday, November 12, 2015 in Houston Chronicle
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