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Opportunities and challenges for high-speed rail corridors in Texas.
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Opportunities and challenges for high-speed rail corridors in Texas.
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  • Edition:
    Research report; Sept. 2010-Aug. 2011.
  • NTL Classification:
    NTL-RAIL TRANSPORTATION-High Speed Ground Transportation ; NTL-RAIL TRANSPORTATION-Rail Planning and Policy ;
  • Abstract:
    Texas features a growing economy and population. The state boasts a large and well-developed

    network of roads, freight railroads, and air facilities, which make the state a vital link in the movement of

    people and goods. However, as the state continues to grow in population and economic significance, these

    systems are straining to meet state, national, and even global needs. It is increasingly obvious to residents

    and state officials that Texas should consider implementing alternative modes of transport, including

    development of passenger rail, for which Texas currently lags behind many of its peer states. Passenger

    rail provides quantifiable benefits in displacing less energy-efficient and higher pollutant-emitting air and

    automobile modes while generating potential positive economic impacts and enhancing consumer choice

    and multimodalism. Conveniently, renewed national interest in rail has invigorated research measuring

    the applicability of passenger rail services to many different regions of the United States, with the

    possibility that future national transportation visions will include passenger rail as an essential element.

    This thesis seeks to clarify the potential for passenger rail specifically in Texas through comparison and

    contrast with other regions and nations in the midst of new national-level knowledge and the changing

    transportation opportunities and challenges facing the state. Some of the ideal characteristics of successful

    international passenger systems exist in Texas, including optimal city spacing and a well-established rail

    network, which have fuelled ongoing interest demonstrated by various system proposals for high-speed

    intercity transportation in Texas over the last four decades. Despite these characteristics, the state presents

    a number of barriers to rail transport rooted in low transit use coupled with generally lower density and

    ambivalent support from politicians and residents when officials present realities of eminent domain and

    land use changes. However, with revitalized national rail interest and new federal rail planning

    requirements, the state may yet be able to work through these challenges to exploit the opportunities the

    state possesses.

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