Amtrak and the Texas Department of Transportation are expected to wrap up a feasibility study at the end of the month that explores higher-speed train service between Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport and Shreveport/Bossier.
The chairman of the East Texas Corridor Council, Richard Anderson of Marshall, Texas, has been working on this effort for the past six years. He meets regularly with public officials in Texas and Louisiana to keep the momentum going. He said he’s optimistic after reviewing Amtrak’s preliminary findings.
“The people with Amtrak indicate to me that the Bossier City route would be at least as attractive as the DFW to Oklahoma City and Tulsa route -- and probably more desirable," Anderson said. "It’s looking promising at this point. Of course, we have the preliminary [report]. We don’t have the final. The final will be the proof in the pudding.”
These passenger trains would average about 80 miles per hour, according to Anderson, and make about four stops along the way. Passengers in Shreveport/Bossier could expect to arrive at DFW in just under three hours.
The chairman of the U.S. High Speed Rail Association, Rod Diridon, said high-speed rail efforts across the nation have been thwarted by partisan politics. He thinks even this incremental improvement in passenger rail service in the South is badly needed as the population continues to grow.
“Especially in the Sun Belt area, across the South, and up the West Coast it’s growing very rapidly. Whatever we do, we’re going to have to expand our transportation systems phenomenally," Diridon said.
But, building more airports and freeways is not the answer, Diridon said.
Anderson said once the Amtrak feasibility study is completed, there will be additional vetting of its findings. If the numbers bear out, it will be a matter of arranging funding sources and getting the trains in operation by 2015.
Louisiana officials are also working to get a feasibility study underway for proposed passenger train service between Shreveport/Bossier and Vicksburg, Miss.