Lone Star State Is One Step Closer To A Regional Commuter Rail

The LSTAR rail line, a planned commuter rail in Texas that would link San Antonio and Georgetown, has made little growth since its conception 15 years ago.  In the past 15 months, however, officials with the Lone Star Rail District have made a giant leap by reaching a preliminary agreement with Union Pacific.  If all goes as planned, Union Pacific would give up its existing freight railroad so that LSTAR could take over the track for passenger rail service.  Officials in the company have already come up with three possible paths for Union Pacific to build the alternate freight line east of Austin.

The district has begun conducting an environmental study, required by federal law, to ensure the environmental safety of the anticipated project.  Union Pacific will soon conduct a similar study as well for its projected freight line.  The next step will be to find adequate funding for the estimated $1.5 billion combined cost of constructing both the passenger and the freight rail lines.  Besides the initial investment, annual operating costs will be in the tens of millions of dollars.  District staff members are looking to fund the project in the private sector, using the financing model for Central Texas toll roads as an example.  They say ongoing revenue will come from community contributions, advertising, property tax revenue, track rental fees from Amtrak and Union Pacific, and, of course, passenger ticket fares.

A commuter rail line linking much of Texas has remained mostly a dream in the past decade.  However, this new plan with Union Pacific will hopefully make the 115-mile, 16-station line from Georgetown to downtown Austin to San Antonio a reality.


{ 1 comment }

James January 11, 2012 at 11:08 am

Texas is in need of something like this – particularly central texas, a rapidly growing area.

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