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RALLYING FOR RAIL

If high speed rail can work between Dallas and Houston, it could work in these places too

A high-speed train moves on tracks in front of office tower buildings
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
The new trains connecting Dallas and Houston will be modeled after this Shinkansen train in Japan.
  • Camille Squires
By Camille Squires

Cities reporter

Published

Plans for a high-speed railway in Texas hit a major milestone last week when developers signed a $16 billion contract with an Italian construction firm to begin work on a high-speed railway connecting Dallas and Houston with a 90 minute ride. The project, which is expected to cost $20 billion was first announced in 2015 by the private developer Texas Central Railroad. It was delayed by court battles for several years as local officials and some property owners fought the company on their right to acquire land for the train. Now the path is clear for construction.

A breakthrough in US high-speed rail

High-speed rail makes sense for Houston and Dallas, cities centered in metro areas of around 7 million residents each, 240 miles apart with interdependent economies. Nearly 100,000 people commute back and forth between the two cities more than once per week, according to Texas Central Railroad. If completed on schedule in 2026, the trains, which are modeled after Japan’s Tokaido Shinkansen rail line, would be the most significant high-speed rail system in the US since the Acela was introduced in 2000.

High-speed rail in Florida and California

California’s beleaguered project to connect San Francisco and Los Angeles is still facing major delays and budget increases. There are other plans to build high-speed rail networks in the northeast corridor, in southern Florida, and between Los Angeles and Las Vegas, but so far none have come to fruition.

Tracking potential high-speed train hubs

While the locomotive utopia of a US entirely connected by high-speed trains is still a long way off, it’s possible to map out other places that could benefit from high-speed rail transit like Dallas and Houston.

We looked at US metro areas with:

  • at least 2 million people
  • between 150 and 500 miles from each other (as the crow flies)
  • at least 14 million total residents combined

That left us with 13 pairs of metros. There are 14 more metro pairs meeting that criteria but with at least 10 million in combined population.

If high-speed rail can work between Houston and Dallas it might work on these routes too.

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