December 19, 2018 - TRA Newswire -

Your input is needed to shape the future of passenger and freight rail in Texas. The Texas Department of Transportation must update the Texas Rail Plan in 2019 to meet federal requirements.

TxDOT is asking the public for their input by going to and completing the survey on what you'd like to see in the future for passenger and freight rail service in Texas. The last state rail plan was updated in 2016.

This is the only statewide opportunity for the public to express their opinion and let TxDOT know if they are going in the right direction. Five goals and objectives the rail division will be looking at include rail safety, management of rail assets, mobility and reliability of rail transportation, mutimodal connections and having rail be competitive in the Texas economy.

According to TxDOT, the agency is updating its Texas Rail Plan to reflect the latest rail project priorities and fulfill eligibility requirements for federal funding of rail projects. Activities include the development of policy concepts, programs and agency-specific strategies to improve the efficiency of freight movement and maintain on-time passenger service.

Rail Passengers Association Division Leader Bruce Ashton of San Antonio spoke at a public meeting for the TxDOT State Rail Plan in Austin on December 11th.  Following the meeting Ashton said “unless Texans take the time to submit their comments now we are in fact admitting we accept our current level of passenger train service with no improvements for the foreseeable future.” In his remarks to TxDOT, Ashton spoke about expansion of Amtrak trains that serve Texas and Oklahoma and for TxDOT to solve a freight and passenger rail choke point across the Neches River in Beaumont.

“While the Texas rail system is a vital component of our thriving economy for moving goods, nothing has been accomplished in creating an intercity passenger rail system by our state legislature. There are so many other states thinking ahead on moving people by rail but Texas has not been one of them,” according to Texas Rail Advocates President Peter LeCody. “Look at the stats. 99% of the funding for TxDOT goes directly to highways and all other modes of transportation get the crumbs. We need our elected leaders to think outside of the box. With a thousand new residents moving to Texas every day we can’t start to pour enough asphalt and concrete to move people and goods around. If you don’t make your voice heard now you have lost a great opportunity.”