Draft State Rail Plan for Public Comment
The Texas Rail Division of TxDOT has released its
latest draft of the state rail plan. Deadline
for public comment on the plan is November 5. The
Texas Transportation Commission is expected to consider
its adoption of the final plan
on November 18. The
plan is available at http://www.txdot.gov/public_involvement/rail_plan/trp.htm.
The current draft shows that Texas is getting serious
about providing a solution to transportation problems
beyond building more highways. It embodies a comprehensive
and progressive approach to rail that takes into
account the economic development issues and population
growth forecast for Texas in the coming decades.
The Lone Star Chapter of the Sierra Club
thinks the plan is a good effort that deserves public
How solid is this plan? It is
supported by the Deputy Administrator of the Federal
Railroad Administration, Burlington Northern Santa
Fe Railroad (BNSF), the North Central Texas Council
of Governments (NCTCOG), the San Antonio Regional
Mobility Commission (SAMCO); the rail freight manager
for Capital Metro, Texas Rail Advocates, the Austin
San Antonio Corridor Council and the Lone Star Rail
The plan covers the exciting new High Speed Intercity
Passenger Rail service as well as improvements to
existing freight and passenger infrastructure. President
Obama’s support for High Speed Rail makes this the
ideal time to take on the challenge of creating
an entirely new transportation network. However
we should not neglect the current rail system. Improvements
to existing service will give Texas early success
stories before the slower process of building High
Speed Rail is shovel-ready. This would help retain
public support and momentum for high speed rail
after the initial push and publicity have passed.
There are three ways to voice support for the draft
1. Send a letter addressed to:
Mr. William Glavin
Director, Rail Division
118 E. Riverside Drive
Austin TX 78704
2. Comment online on the Texas Rail Plan website
3. Complete the online questionnaire at:
Here you can rate the relative importance of the
various plan initiatives.
Here are some talking points
for comments on the plan:
• The plan is progressive and based on sound feasibility
• The plan needs a timeline and complete table of
capital improvement tasks.
• The plan leads the Texas freight rail network
to become more attractive to new and
• Shipping by rail produces just one tenth of the
carbon monoxide as shipping via truck.
• Overburdened highways like the Interstate 35 corridor
between San Antonio and Austin cannot support future
levels of domestic and international freight trade.
Freight rail use can prevent the expansion and construction
of more highways.
• Passenger rail is needed in Texas. The future
of Texas depends on reinforcing the
economic and social ties between the different areas
of our large state.
• High Speed Rail presents a once in a lifetime
opportunity for the nation to invest in a
new rail passenger system that can serve public
transportation needs more cleanly
than automobiles and less expensive than air travel.
• High Speed Rail corridor acquisition and development
should not happen at the
expense of improving the existing system.
• Improvements to existing service will give Texas
early success stories before the
slower process of building High Speed Rail is shovel-ready.
• The majority of rail delays could be remedied
by systemwide improvements to existing infrastructure.
Prioritizing improvements to existing infrastructure
and addressing safety issues that reduce system
efficiency would benefit both passenger and freight service.
• Relocating freight lines outside urban areas and
using the existing urban lines for passenger rail
will reduce bottlenecks.