February 12, 2024 - TRA Newswire -

Two of the most powerful Texas county judges along the I-35 corridor met with Union Pacific officials in Washington earlier today to begin talks about starting passenger rail service, according to a post on X (formerly Twitter) from the Austin American-Statseman's transportation reporter. 

Travis County Judge Andy Brown @AndyBrownATX  and Bexar County Judge Peter Sakai @JudgePeterSakai  met with Union Pacific in D.C. to discuss bringing more passenger rail service to Central Texas, South Texas and into Mexico. 

The post contained a quote from Travis County Judge Andy Brown. "Union Pacific understands the importance of building rail network partnerships, and we look forward to working together to find creative solutions to expand passenger rail service for two of the fastest growing metros in the country."

Bexar County Judge Peter Sakai was quoted in the X post as saying "as we move forward, our priority is to continue in ongoing discussions with Union Pacific and seeking solutions to address transportation challenges between San Antonio and Austin."

Judge Brown and Judge Sakai discussed models for partnerships that expand passenger and freight rail options across the country, wrote Chase Rogers (@CHaseRogersAAS) of the Statesman on his X post. The judges thanked Union Pacific for their ongoing partnership with agencies like Amtrak to operate passenger trains on their freight rail network between Austin and San Antonio.

Currently Union Pacific hosts one Amtrak round-trip daily between San Antonio and Austin that continues to Dallas-Fort Worth and terminates in Chicago. However, this is a long-distance train covering over a thousand milles and the judges seem to be looking for something more like a super-regional corridor-service that would reach from the DFW metroplex, through Austin and San Antonio and contiue on to the Rio Grand Valley.   

Restart Lone Star Rail District @RestartLSRD , a group organized to promote rail service, announced on X that "this is the first step to something big, and we are so thankful for our elected officials who are pushing to get this done."

Officials and interested parties along the corridor will be meeting in Austin later this week, when Travis County Judge Brown will hold a kickoff meeting for a passenger rail advisory committee. 

Photo credit: Judge Andy Brown on X