Planners hope to see higher rail passenger speeds
POSTED: Tuesday, July 24, 2012 - 7:30pm
UPDATED: Wednesday, July 25, 2012 - 10:15am
Longview, TX — Providing speedier passenger rail service through East Texas was the focus of a meeting late this past week.
Members of the East Texas Corridor Council met with representatives from Arkansas, Texas and Louisiana to discuss upcoming improvements. Amtrak currently provides service through East Texas linking Chicago to San Antonio on the Texas Eagle route.
“The trains now function at about 35 miles per hour on average,” said council Richard Anderson, chairman of the council. “We’re looking to double those speeds in the next six to 12 months.”
Anderson said passenger trains currently operating on the South Central Rail Corridor have a maximum speed of 120 mph, but scheduling around and yielding to more slowly moving freight cars on the single rail line has significantly impacted average travel speed.
“The long term goal is for double-tracking, so that there can be tracks dedicated to either freight or passenger cars along the Union Pacific Corridor,” Anderson said. “We’re hoping to increase the speed of passenger rails to somewhere in the range of 80 and 115 mph, but that’s probably 10 to 15 years out.”
However, in the next six to 12 months, the council and Amtrak will utilize the results of a feasibility study to optimize scheduling practices along the single available line to allow passenger cars to move at greater speeds, he said.