June 1, 2024 - TRA Newswire -

Texas Mayors and County Judges along two proposed Federal Railroad Administration long-distance passenger rail routes will soon be receiving letters asking for their support for daily train service.

The FRA has outlined 15 conventional-speed passenger rail corridors that are a proposed network of preferred routes. These routes could be advanced for daily service, and a number of them traverse through the Lone Star state. If the plans are developed, the Dallas-Fort Worth area could become a major hub and a number of Texas towns and cities would regain rail service that was lost over a half-century ago. 

The first batch of letters are directed to elected officials in the Texas Panhandle, where Amarillo becomes a junction of two of the preferred routes. One line would run from Houston through DFW to Amarillo and onward to Denver while the other line spans the midsection of the country from Minneapolis southwest to Amarillo and on to Albuquerque and Phoenix. 

In the letters, which TRA Board Member and former national Rail Passengers Association Director Bruce Ashton is developing and mailing, invites the elected officials to become part of a multi-community campaign to declare public support for possible new passenger rail service for both their community and Texas.

The letter explains that "recently the Federal Rail Administration (FRA) announced proposals for new passenger routes in the US including four which would be serving both the Panhandle and West Texas. I believe two routes, Houston to Denver and Phoenix to Minneapolis via Amarillo will have tremendous benefits for both Amarillo and the entire Texas Panhandle. One criterion used by FRA for developing these proposed routes was to connect large metropolitan centers while also serving rural communities along the way. For now, the FRA proposals are just that, a projection of what rail services should be for our nation. Yes, this is a strategic ten-year plan."

By expressing an interest at this time, Amarillo can stake its claim as a shareholder in this proposal. FRA is currently soliciting public comments on all proposed preferred routes.

"Your comments to the FRA with a copy to TXDOT stating your interest and support in these proposed routes is the first step in obtaining future grants that would study and validate creating these routes", the letter outlines. "Addresses for FRA and TXDOT are attached. Gaining numerous letters of support will help secure these projects in future TXDOT Rail Plan. It starts with community leaders expressing their desire and need for Amtrak service."

Ashton said he is contacting local community leaders to 'raise awareness for the potential this service would bring both for increased economic development and for our fellow citizens to have an option for a more affordable, convenient and relaxing travel experience."

Obtaining this new passenger service strengthens the foundation for better passenger rail transportation in Texas and improves Amtrak’s national network. New passenger service also benefits the public by providing both a viable alternative to increasingly congested highways and airports and necessary transportation for smaller communities across the nation. Texas has for too long accepted less than complete Amtrak service.

TRA Board Member Ashton said he would be glad to meet with elected officials at their convenience to answer questions and perhaps cover additional points on this subject.

Photo credit: Federal Railroad Administration