“It averages 9,000 to 10,000 riders daily,” he said. “We look at the TRE as an indicator of interest and appetite to have intermodal transportation.”
Shelton said the 37-mile Tex Rail project, which stretches from east of Benbrook Lake to DFW Airport, should start construction this time next year.
The best places to implement commuter rail, Shelton said, are the existing freight railroad corridors, most owned by Union Pacific Railroad or BNSF Railroad.
“We believe by negotiating we will be able to implement passenger rail in those corridors,” he said, noting that their locations would be convenient for commuters.
Passenger rail, Shelton said, will soon have more modern-style equipment.
“They’re getting away from from the old-style locomotives with the coach cabs following them,” he said.
He also said that NCTCOG was beginning to develop a priority plan for the western region, and will be working with leaders in Parker and Tarrant counties to prioritize projects.
A private consortium from Japan approached NCTCOG a year ago, Shelton said, and wants to come to the U.S. and implement high-speed rail — over 200 mph. He said the group determined the best place to do so would be from Dallas/Fort Worth to Houston, a trip that would then take 90 minutes.
Riley asked Shelton to explain why establishing commuter rail can’t be done quickly.
“There are several key steps,” Shelton said. “The corridors are owned by railroads, and we must reach agreements to operate in their right-of-ways. It typically requires very little right-of-way acquisition; a real benefit is their minimial impact on communities. But we have to reach agreements on safety issues.”
Shelton also listed the level of environmental scrutiny required, the design, engineering and construction of the system, and finding the resources.