May 27, 2021 - TRA Newswire -

By 2035 Amtrak, the only national passenger rail service provider, wants to deliver more frequent and reliable trains to more Texas cities.

In an announcement from Amtrak CEO Bill Flynn, the executive said that “now is the time to invest in our country’s infrastructure and future. New and improved rail service has the ability to change how our country moves and provides cleaner air, less traffic and a more connected country.”

This would be especially true in Texas as more than 1,000 new residents move to the state every day.

Amtrak wants to see intercity passenger rail service expanded to over 160 more communities and 20 million more passengers annually, as outlined in the Amtrak Corridor Vision released today. To be implemented in collaboration with states, local communities, the administration and many other stakeholders, the Corridor Vision builds upon Amtrak’s national network, integrating new and improved corridors to expand the existing system.

Expansion of train service between Texas towns and cities would result in economic growth for the areas served and additional railroad jobs as Amtrak would beef up service in corridors generally under 300 miles.

All this, of course, is dependent on a Congressional appropriation that would pay for capital improvements and operating cost assistance for states involved. Amtrak, which has right of access to all railways in the U.S., would need to work with freight railroads to add capacity such as additional track, signals and other infrastructure improvements.

In Texas, Amtrak is proposing

Three round-trip corridor trains to supplement the once-a-day Texas Eagle service between Dallas/Fort Worth and Austin/San Antonio
Up to two additional frequencies on the Heartland Flyer between Fort Worth and Oklahoma City, up from the lone round trip each day
Increasing tri-weekly service on the national east-west Sunset Limited route between Houston and San Antonio by adding three round trips daily
Re-establishing service between Dallas-Corsicana-College Station-Houston that was cut in the late 90's and adding three round trips daily

"Houston is one of the largest and most underserved cities in the nation when it comes to passenger rail service," according to Texas Rail Advocates President Peter LeCody. "With only three trains a week going east and three trains a week going west it's just a skeletonized service right now. With Texas Central planning high speed rail between Houston and Dallas, adding additional Amtrak service in key Texas corridors would connect more towns and cities by rail for more Texans and tourists."
Amtrak’s vision to grow rail service across the country includes 39 potential new routes and more trips or other enhancements on 25 existing routes, creating the potential to expand or improve rail service for 20 million additional passengers each year. The plan calls for improved service in major cities currently underserved by rail like Houston, Atlanta and Cincinnati and new intercity passenger rail service to cities such as Las Vegas, Nashville, Columbus, Phoenix, and Wichita, with increased access for many towns and cities in between.
The economic benefit of Amtrak’s Corridor Vision is expected to reach $8 billion annually by 2035, with an additional $195 billion in economic activity generated by additional capital investment during 2021 – 2035. More than 26,000 ongoing permanent jobs plus 616,000 person-years of employment supported by capital investments during 2021-2035 will be created or supported by this vision.
Additionally, this plan offers a significant opportunity to reduce emissions. Travel on Amtrak trains outside the Northeast Corridor (NEC) emits up to 55% fewer Greenhouse Gases than driving alone, and up to 30% fewer than flying.
 In a letter to Congress, Amtrak highlights what it will take to achieve this bold vision.
Flynn added, “The American people have waited long enough for a sustainable, world-class intercity passenger rail network. Congress could pass legislation today to start making Amtrak’s vision a reality: create a Corridor Development Program, pass the Intercity Passenger Rail Trust Fund Act and Rail Passenger Fairness Act, and clarify the law to ensure fair access to host railroads for Amtrak growth.”
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