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Intercity Rail in Texas, Ohio; Changes to Honolulu's Rail Plan

Ohio’s Governor Ted Strickland prioritizes new “3-C” rail connection between Cincinnati and Cleveland, through ColumbusOhio Hub Map

In yesterday’s State of the State address, Governor Ted Strickland (D) announced that he’d be working towards the development of a new rail corridor – the 3C – between Cincinnati and Cleveland, via Dayton and Columbus, connecting the states’ four largest metropolitan areas and implementing the first phase 0f the Ohio Hub plan.

This will be the first time in forty years that Ohio’s major cities have been connected by rail – and will mark the first rail service for Columbus, the state capital, in decades. According to the Toledo Blade, however, residents of the state’s fifth largest metro area were a bit dismayed by the lack of proposed service for Toledo. On the other hand, the Ohio Hub’s second phase proposes improving the existing train line between Cleveland and Chicago, which would serve Toledo. And while service to Toledo already exists, there is none to Columbus currently, so the 3C line probably makes the most sense as a first phase.

The plan Mr. Strickland wants to implement would rely on economic stimulus funds from the federal government, but it would not produce high-speed rail. Rather, it would allow for Amtrak-style service at speeds of 60 to 90 mph along the corridor. Ultimately, the Ohio Hub would form a part of the greater Midwest High-Speed Rail system. (Perhaps the system should actually be referred to as Midwest “High-Speed” Rail?)

Texan rail advocates pitch their “T-Bone” plan to the state legislatureTexas T-Bone Map

The Houston Chronicle reports that the Texas High Speed Rail and Transportation Corporation, generator of the Texas T-Bone plan, is actively pushing its project for a true high-speed rail connection (200 mph) between Dallas-Fort Worth and San Antonio, with a spur running from Temple to Houston.

The proposed project, whose price tag is likely to run in the $12 to $18 billion range, could be completed by 2020 and would represent the state’s second serious attempt at implementing a high-speed rail system after the early-1990s Texas TGV project failed because of its inability to receive enough funds from private sources (that proposal was supposed to be funded entirely through non-governmental money).

This time, the project won’t face opposition from now-neutral Southwest Airlines, as the Texas TGV did. And the federal government’s willingness to open its coffers to high-speed rail investment suggests that the T-Bone may in fact find the funds it needs to be implemented. Texas Governor Rick Perry (R) has expressed his support of the project, though he’s been unwilling to commit state resources to the project thus far, convinced instead that as the state becomes more populated, the project will be able to pay for itself.

Let it be known that the transport politic considers it highly unlikely for a major high-speed rail investment such as this to ever be constructed with solely private funds.

Honolulu’s 20-mile proposed rail system to be re-routed via airport and Pearl Harbor

Say Yes to the Honolulu Rail System blog reports that the Honolulu City Council voted yesterday in favor of a change in the planned routing of the city’s rail system, which is currently being planned. Instead of running along Salt Lake Boulevard, the line will now be redirected via the Honolulu airport and Pearl Harbor, adding a predicted 8,000 daily riders and increasing the system’s cost by $200 million. With a total project cost of more than $5 billion, this represents chump change.

This change has been under consideration since the week after the election, when Mayor Mufi Hannemann suggested that it would make more sense to include airport access in the first phase of the project, rather than as a spur to be built in the future, as it would add significant ridership and help residents and tourists alike get to the airport, which is a huge economic generator for the region as a whole. The Salt Lake alignment now becomes a potential future extension.

Images above: Ohio Hub from Ohio DOT; Texas T-Bone corridor from THSRTC

3 replies on “Intercity Rail in Texas, Ohio; Changes to Honolulu's Rail Plan”

Why is Southwest Airlines now considered “neutral” in terms of the Texas T-Bone? Something to do with the Wright Amendment? Or is it because Herb’s not around to fight against rail?

Kyle – I’m not sure what the answer is… the article simply points out that Southwest is “neutral.” Perhaps their Dallas/Houston service isn’t as profitable as it used to be? Or maybe Southwest wants to get into the game and try to get a commission to run the trains?

I’d guess it has more to do with the Wright Amendment. Back when SWA helped to kill the Texas TGV concept, a lot of their business (all flights out of Love Field) was limited by law to short-haul flights within Texas and to the neighboring states. Flash forward to today – the Wright Amendment has lifted restrictions on Love Field and SWA is flying long-hauls from coast to coast. I suppose SWA could finally be catching on to the “long-haul = plane / short-haul = train” concept.

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