Positioning the U.S. for High Speed and Intercity Passenger Rail: Texas in Focus


The Dallas and Houston metropolitan areas are two of the largest and fastest growing regions in the United States, with a combined population exceeding 15 million people. These two metropolitan areas are just 240 miles apart, and travel demand between them is substantial. Travelers are served primarily by IH-45 and short-haul airline flights. However, increasing congestion will extend highway travel time between the two cities from 3.5-4 hours to 6.5 hours by 2035 if nothing is done.

To provide an additional intercity transportation option and support the continued population and economic growth of these megaregions, the 2023-2024 Transportation Planning Practicum evaluated passenger rail alternatives between Dallas and Houston. The goal was to analyze the costs, benefits, and feasibility of different passenger rail options and develop an implementation strategy. Students in the practicum studied the history of Texas Central and its initial proposals. 

During Fall 2023, students studied and analyzed various case studies of high-speed rail across the globe, conducted a SWOT analysis of the proposal, and applied their initial findings to the local Texas context. In Spring 2023, students focused on crafting a methodological framework, interviewing stakeholders, and developing a set of recommendations in the second semester of the project.

Photo: Michael Barera, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons