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Which city would be best for a direct HSR connection... Austin or Dallas?


  

79 members have voted

  1. 1. Which city would be best for High Speed Rail travel from Houston?

    • Austin
      35
    • Dallas
      44


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The poll feature should work now.

There is more travel between Houston and Dallas than between Houston and Austin, as reflected by the FTA's travel statistics. Therefore, assuming that high speed rail actually is superior in terms of service and price to airlines, the Houston-Dallas connection is a no-brainer. If it's not a better alternative to airlines but is a better alternative to car trips, then service to either Austin or San Antonio would be more effective because travelers are already less willing to drive to Dallas than they are to Austin or San Antonio.

EDIT: However, the 'Texas T-Bone' seems to have already gained a lot of support. If high speed rail is built, that'll probably be the route. And it won't be as good for Houston as either of the options posed by the poll.

Edited by TheNiche
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Neither. Austin is full of hippies and Dallas is full of socialite posers, and we don't want their suckiness to get here any faster than it has to.

Exactly, neither form of life would ever want to visit smelly, dirty Houston. But we do have lots of people that live here because they work here but that would prefer not to, and they complain incessantly. Therefore I believe it to be in our best interests to provide them with an efficient means by way of which they may remove themselves from our presence with greater frequency.

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Exactly, neither form of life would ever want to visit smelly, dirty Houston. But we do have lots of people that live here because they work here but that would prefer not to, and they complain incessantly. Therefore I believe it to be in our best interests to provide them with an efficient means by way of which they may remove themselves from our presence with greater frequency.

There is that. I hadn't considered the removal factor.

Okay, then, Austin, because socialites are marginally less obnoxious than self-righteous granola-heads.

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Thanks for the input everyone. It makes sense that there is more travel overall between Houston and Dallas than Houston and Austin, but I was wondering if it is significantly more. I was however wondering about a couple of factors...

-D/FW is one of the major airport hubs of the US, so both IAH and Hobby route alot of their airport traffic through D/FW. There's no doubt that lots of people are traveling exclusively to the Metroplex, but some of those people are going to other destinations as well.

-Austin is closer to Houston than Dallas is, so I just assumed that more people would drive to Austin before they would fly there. D/FW on the other hand, it seems like someone would be just as likely to fly as they would to drive.

I've been trying to find out how many people travel between Houston and the other Texas Triangle metros, but there's just no good way to do that. You can't measure freeway volume, b/c you never know how many people are going to Austin or S/A when they take I-10. Flights are also skewed b/c with D/FW, you never know if the passengers are just passing through.

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I've been trying to find out how many people travel between Houston and the other Texas Triangle metros, but there's just no good way to do that. You can't measure freeway volume, b/c you never know how many people are going to Austin or S/A when they take I-10. Flights are also skewed b/c with D/FW, you never know if the passengers are just passing through.

The answers you seek are in the destination reports.

http://www.travel.state.tx.us/2001TexasD.aspx

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Thanks for the input everyone. It makes sense that there is more travel overall between Houston and Dallas than Houston and Austin, but I was wondering if it is significantly more. I was however wondering about a couple of factors...

-D/FW is one of the major airport hubs of the US, so both IAH and Hobby route alot of their airport traffic through D/FW.

Also, added in to the calculations is the fact that IAH is also one of the major airport hubs of the US and Hobby is considerably larger than Love Field, so to a very similar extent, both DFW and Love route a lot of their airport traffic through IAH and Hobby.

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Editor already got my comment.

But how much would it cost? The train from DC to NY is $200 one way, it that's about the same distance as it is from Houston to Dallas.

For real? I still fly one-way to Dallas for 60-80 buck if I purchase tickets well in advance. With 2-3 days in advance i still get 100 bucks ticket. If HSR is that expensive then I'll pass.

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  • 2 weeks later...
For real? I still fly one-way to Dallas for 60-80 buck if I purchase tickets well in advance. With 2-3 days in advance i still get 100 bucks ticket. If HSR is that expensive then I'll pass.

They would price it competitively. Amtrak charges that because they can get it. The Acela competes with airlines for business passengers. Rather effectively, I might add; they often sell those trains out.

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Editor already got my comment.

For real? I still fly one-way to Dallas for 60-80 buck if I purchase tickets well in advance. With 2-3 days in advance i still get 100 bucks ticket. If HSR is that expensive then I'll pass.

I just looked it up and the Accella is actually $177 from NYP-WAS, and that includes all taxes and fees. More importantly, that's a walk-up price. No advance purchase necessary. Try that with Southwest.

How much is a $60 HOU-DFW ticket once you include all the taxes and fees?

FTR, I have a ticket on a high-speed train (300kph from Seoul to Pusan) that leaves in one hour. I'm still at my hotel, but it's plenty of time to get to the station (15 minutes by taxi), get something to read, maybe something to eat, and board. No security lines. No baggage checking. No checking in of any kind (automated or otherwise). No traffic hassles driving way way out to an airport. No leaving an FAA-recommended two-hour cushion of time in case something happens at the airport.

Once you have an HSR option, flying seems silly by comparison.

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I just looked it up and the Accella is actually $177 from NYP-WAS, and that includes all taxes and fees. More importantly, that's a walk-up price. No advance purchase necessary. Try that with Southwest.

How much is a $60 HOU-DFW ticket once you include all the taxes and fees?

As you suggest, there is no $60 walk-up fare for Southwest. But I just looked it up and the walk-up fare to Dallas today is $136.10, taxes and fees included. No advance purchase necessary.

Time of travel for Acela: 2 hrs, 48 minutes.

Time of travel for Southwest: 1 hour.

and in both Houston and Dallas, it's really not much more difficult or time-consuming to get to Hobby or Love than to any train station that might house a HSR.

Boarding trains is a simpler and somewhat quicker process, but I think you overstate the advantage, at least here in Texas. As mentioned above, both Hobby and Love are quite conveniently located, neither has terribly long or difficult security lines.

It's not as though one strolls into Union Station in Washington DC and, voila!, 2 hours and 48 minutes later, you magically arrive on the streets of midtown Manhattan. One still has to get to the station in advance of the train, wait in the waiting area until boarding time, then walk to the train (and since we are positing no luggage-checking, that means you are dragging all of your luggage with you...)

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Time of travel for Acela: 2 hrs, 48 minutes.

Time of travel for Southwest: 1 hour.

Not exactly. The point is to move people, not planes or trains. Acela delivers you from downtown to downtown -- places where people go. Add a minimum of two hours to the Southwest time to cover commuting to and from two airports, taxiing twice, clearing security, check-in, and all the other things one doesn't have to deal with when traveling by train.

and in both Houston and Dallas, it's really not much more difficult or time-consuming to get to Hobby or Love than to any train station that might house a HSR.

I don't understand this sentence. Are you trying to say there isn't a single location in either of the cities of Houston or Dallas that is better a better location than the current airport locations? How about in one or four of the surface lots in their respective downtowns?

Boarding trains is a simpler and somewhat quicker process,

Not somewhat quicker. Vastly quicker.

It's not as though one strolls into Union Station in Washington DC and, voila!, 2 hours and 48 minutes later, you magically arrive on the streets of midtown Manhattan.

As someone who's actually done it, yes it is pretty much like that. I walked into Union Station, bought a ticket at the ticket wicket, walked directly onto the train, sat on the train for maybe five minutes before it started moving. 2:48 later I was in New York, walking through Penn Station. Three minutes later I was on the streets of Midtown Manhattan.

One still has to get to the station in advance of the train, wait in the waiting area until boarding time, then walk to the train (and since we are positing no luggage-checking, that means you are dragging all of your luggage with you...)

Same rolling case I would have used as a carry-on on Southwest. If I had lots of luggage a porter would help me with it. Lugging baggage to check-in, then lugging it to tagging, then lugging it to security, then picking it up from the baggage carousel is an airport thing, not a train thing. On the train you bags stay in the same train car with you, unless you're bringing along steamer trunks.

There's a huge demand for inter-city transportation in Texas. It's a demand that, combined with other air traffic, is straining the airports. Like with freeways, you can't just keep building bigger airports in hopes of solvin the problem. Trains offer another option for moving people. The more options, the better. And there's nothing wrong with a little healthy competition, either.

For those participating in and observing the discussion, I'd like to hear from everyone --

  • Have you ever traveled intercity on a train?
  • Have you ever traveled on a high-speed train?

The answer for me is "yes" to both. For regular trains, I've done a bunch of Amtrak runs around Illinois, Missouri, Wisconsin, and the east coast. I've also done a few NJ Transit runs in New York and New Jersey, Go Transit around Ontario, Metra around Chicagoland, the South Shore Electric Railway from Chicago to Michigan, British Rail to some areas south of London, and VIA Rail in Alberta and British Columbia.

For HSR, I've done the Brussels-Lyon, Lyon-Paris, London-Paris, London-Brussels, and today the Seoul-Busan runs.

As a point of interest, today's trip maxed out at 317kph (197 mph) according to the monitor hanging from the ceiling.

I'm not suggesting that people who haven't had much passenger rail experience don't know what they're talking about. Everyone who pays taxes in Texas has a stake in this discussion. I'm just interested in knowing more about whether or not people have had the experience in the first place.

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Not exactly. The point is to move people, not planes or trains. Acela delivers you from downtown to downtown -- places where people go. Add a minimum of two hours to the Southwest time to cover commuting to and from two airports, taxiing twice, clearing security, check-in, and all the other things one doesn't have to deal with when traveling by train.

Acela delivers you from downtown DC to midtown Manhattan. And yes, Manhattan is pretty much where people want to go in NYC. A little less so for the trains going in the other direction. And vastly less so for the inter-city traffic between Dallas and Houston. Downtown Houston and, even more so, Downtown Dallas, are simply not the all-encompassing dominant destinations that Manhattan is for NYC. Saying downtown is "where people go" in the case of Houston and Dallas is simply not true. Start with the reality that most of the Dallas-Houston intercity travel is business travel. Then add in the reality that approximately 120,000 people work in downtown Dallas, out of a metropolitan employment base of approximately 3,000,000. In Houston, maybe 175,000 people work downtown, out of an employment base of approximately 2.7 million.

Your comparisons of travel time are inapt; adding all sorts of time to the air commute but not doing the same for train commutes does not give us an accurate comparison.

"Commuting to and from....": People don't live at the train stations (well, maybe some people do, but they generally can't afford the tickets, so they aren't really relevant for our discussion). In reality, when traveling by train, one also has to commute to and from the train station. We're not talking about NYC here; we're talking about Houston and Dallas. The difference between commuting to Hobby or Love vs. a downtown train station, just is not that great. In fact, for most likely business train riders in Dallas, the commute to Love Field would be easier. The number for which it would be LESS convenient is very low indeed. Overall, in the Houston-Dallas market, I think it's fair to say the commute time to and from the airports vs. to and from a downtown train station, is pretty close to a draw.

"taxiing twice" Adding taxiing times twice is simply inaccurate, as one of them is already included in the flight time.

"clearing security" fair enough, but at HOU and DAL, it's just not a long process at most times.

"check-in" Any frequent business traveler not checking luggage knows that you check in at home the day before and go directly through security, no check-in at the airport required.

"and all the other things one doesn't have to deal with when traveling by train".... such as, what, exactly? I think you've already more than covered it.

I don't understand this sentence. Are you trying to say there isn't a single location in either of the cities of Houston or Dallas that is better a better location than the current airport locations? How about in one or four of the surface lots in their respective downtowns?

No need to get snarky. You know very well I didn't say anything of the sort. The fact is, both HOU and DAL are very conveniently located for the vast majority of people. Going to a downtown train station vs. Hobby would save most people 10-15 minutes, at most. And for a fairly large number of people it would add 10-15 minutes. Even more so in the case of DAL.

Not somewhat quicker. Vastly quicker.

As someone who's actually done it, yes it is pretty much like that. I walked into Union Station, bought a ticket at the ticket wicket, walked directly onto the train, sat on the train for maybe five minutes before it started moving. 2:48 later I was in New York, walking through Penn Station. Three minutes later I was on the streets of Midtown Manhattan.

Perhaps it is vastly quicker compared to navigating NYC airports or DC airports. But compared to DAL or HOU, it just is not vastly quicker. I have ridden the trains from WDC to NYC many times, including Acela. It's not THAT dissimilar to boarding a plane. You get to the train station, go to your gate area, wait for the boarding to begin, gather at the door with the rest of the passengers and walk to the train. Yes, it's a little quicker and less of a hassle than boarding an airplane. Not vastly quicker. The only significant difference is the security, which as mentioned above, just does not take a vast amount of time at either Hobby or Love. Theoretically, you can walk in the station 15 minutes before the train departure and walk right on the train. But theoretically, you can also walk into Hobby 20 minutes before your flight and walk through security and right on to the plane (I know; I've done it.) Not what I would call a vast difference. In reality, in 95% of travelers' experiences, one gets to the airport/train station ahead of time and waits at the gate.

Same rolling case I would have used as a carry-on on Southwest. If I had lots of luggage a porter would help me with it. Lugging baggage to check-in, then lugging it to tagging, then lugging it to security, then picking it up from the baggage carousel is an airport thing, not a train thing. On the train you bags stay in the same train car with you, unless you're bringing along steamer trunks.

Not sure what your point here was. Yeah, you can roll your bag onto the train, just like you can onto the plane (except on the train, you might have to "roll" it up some steps.) Not seeing how that's an advantage for the train. (And what is this process you claim to go through to check bags on an airplane? When I check bags on Continental or Southwest, I just put the bag up on the little scale thing and they take it from there. No "lugging to tagging", "lugging to security" ... The reality is, "lugging" your bags to the baggage check and then claiming it at baggage claim is easier than lugging it all the way through the train station and onto the train and then back off the train and all the way back through the station, with or without a porter.)

Don't misunderstand me. I am a big fan of taking the train from DC to NYC. It works there and is much more convenient than flying. I am also intrigued by the idea of HSR in Texas. But he same convenience factors and time-savings just are not going to be reality for train travel between Dallas and Houston. We both have more convenient and efficient airports than the east coast cities, and neither Dallas nor Houston has the concentration of destinations that NYC and, to a slightly lesser extent DC, have.

Edited by Houston19514
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I don't think anyone has mentioned weather delays, but I would happily take HSR to Dallas and San Antonio over flying, for no other reason than it would would mean I'm not subject to weather delays in the midwest or northeast messing up my schedule. I bet there are Dallas-bound people sitting around in Hobby and IAH right now whose originating flight is still on the ground at LaGuardia.

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I don't think anyone has mentioned weather delays, but I would happily take HSR to Dallas and San Antonio over flying, for no other reason than it would would mean I'm not subject to weather delays in the midwest or northeast messing up my schedule. I bet there are Dallas-bound people sitting around in Hobby and IAH right now whose originating flight is still on the ground at LaGuardia.

Good point, unless and until the imaginary Dallas-Houston HSR is part of the imaginary nationwide network.

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Just a couple of things y'all might have overlooked:

-I believe the proposal presently on the table would include stops at the airports as well as the city centers, so an HSR station would be at least as close as the airport for everyone.

-Acela is not high speed rail. It can reach 150 mph but doesn't between New York and Washington; average speed is also much slower due to track conditions, train congestion, and stops. I hope what Texas is considering would be true high speed rail: 186-200 mph on its own right of way. This would make a trip of Houston-Dallas distance much faster than an Acela trip of similar distance. A better comparison for the Texas system would be with the AVE or TGV.

And for the record, I have ridden:

-Cercanias (commuter), Regional, and long distance trains in Spain.

-Spanish AVE from Seville to Madrid.

-Amtrak northeast regional and Pennsylvanian services.

-MTA Metro-North and LIRR, SEPTA, NJ Transit.

-Various airport trains and urban rail in Europe.

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Just a couple of things y'all might have overlooked:

-I believe the proposal presently on the table would include stops at the airports as well as the city centers, so an HSR station would be at least as close as the airport for everyone.

-Acela is not high speed rail. It can reach 150 mph but doesn't between New York and Washington; average speed is also much slower due to track conditions, train congestion, and stops. I hope what Texas is considering would be true high speed rail: 186-200 mph on its own right of way. This would make a trip of Houston-Dallas distance much faster than an Acela trip of similar distance. A better comparison for the Texas system would be with the AVE or TGV.

Actually, I think the proposal presently on the table would stop ONLY at the airports; so this whole discussion is fairly moot.

You are correct as to Acela's speeds. The reason for that is that it runs on existing infrastructure. The flip side of that, of course is the enormous cost of building entirely new infrastructure. Meaning either enormous subsidy/taxpayer "investment" or higher, likely uncompetitive, pricing.

Also, the proposal presently on the table, the Texas T-bone would diminish at least some of the time-savings obtained by higher speeds, especially if one had to change trains at the T.

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For those participating in and observing the discussion, I'd like to hear from everyone --

  • Have you ever traveled intercity on a train?
  • Have you ever traveled on a high-speed train?

Yes, no. And only a couple of times, in Europe. At various points in my life I've tried to justify using AMTRAK just so that I could have tried it, but it is painfully slow and still can't compete for price with either airlines or a bus service.

I don't think anyone has mentioned weather delays, but I would happily take HSR to Dallas and San Antonio over flying, for no other reason than it would would mean I'm not subject to weather delays in the midwest or northeast messing up my schedule. I bet there are Dallas-bound people sitting around in Hobby and IAH right now whose originating flight is still on the ground at LaGuardia.

What would the impact of bad weather be on HSR? Somehow it doesn't seem like it might be prudent to operate a train at 190mph while it's raining hard and winds are gusty.

Actually, I think the proposal presently on the table would stop ONLY at the airports; so this whole discussion is fairly moot.

You are correct as to Acela's speeds. The reason for that is that it runs on existing infrastructure. The flip side of that, of course is the enormous cost of building entirely new infrastructure. Meaning either enormous subsidy/taxpayer "investment" or higher, likely uncompetitive, pricing.

Also, the proposal presently on the table, the Texas T-bone would diminish at least some of the time-savings obtained by higher speeds, especially if one had to change trains at the T.

You are correct on all counts and probably saved me over an hour's worth of rant.

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  • 3 weeks later...

Definitely Dallas. Not only is there more business travel between Houston and Dallas, but also the Houston-Austin drive is pretty easy at 2 hours, with more than one decent route to take (either 290 or 71). Houston-Dallas is 4 hours in no traffic, there is only one feasible route, and it gets backed up all the time. Try driving the route either way on a Friday afternoon-evening and it is at least a 6 hour drive.

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  • Have you ever traveled intercity on a train?

Not so much in the US, but quite a bit overseas. Throughout Europe, and also regularly when I go to Japan.

  • Have you ever traveled on a high-speed train?

Yes, the TGV in France, the Italian equivalent, and multiple trips on Shinkansen in Japan: Narita-Tokyo, Tokyo-Kyoto (twice), Tokyo-Sendai.

People in Texas who have not ridden on trains much or at all just don't know what they are missing:

There is no need to be at the station an hour before your train leaves - 10 minutes is more than enough time.

There is no annoying and delaying security queue.

Trains are rarely delayed, unlike airplanes, which are always getting delayed due to weather, previous flight delays, other planes still sitting in their gates, etc.

Unlike most airports, which, for noise and space considerations, have to be sited a ways for the urban center they serve, train stations are usually located IN the urban centers, reducing the amount of time you spend getting to and from the station vs airport, and also putting you right where you want to be.

Trains are MUCH more comfortable to travel in than airplanes. The seats aren't all crammed togetherlike they are on an airplane (except on the Shinkansen) and even if you do start to feel claustrophobic in your seat, it is always safe to get up and stretch your legs, and there is plenty of room to do so. Oh, man I hope there is a club or dining car if there is ever a Houston-Dallas train.

I think the current use of regional jets like the Embraer, which is becoming more and more popular as airlines don't want to spend more money on bigger jets, is a travesty. Not only are these little jets less efficient in terms of fuel used per passenger carried, they are also clogging the airways and taxiways of America, leading to more delays. The obvious solution, for the environment, for the economy, for peoples' pocketbooks, comfort, and convenience, is to return to rail for regional travel.

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  • 1 month later...

Given the choice, I think the Houston-Dallas route would be best.

However, the Texas high speed rail will be most effective if it can provide travel for any route between Houston, Dallas, Austin, and San Antonio.

These routes have already been studied extensively - it would be nice to move beyond planning and into execution.

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  • 2 months later...

Any HSR built in Texas isn't going to be just a Dallas-Houston HSR proposal. While there would be more traffic on a DAL-HOU route then a AUS-HOU, you have to remember the Alamo city out west too. Any HSR proposal for Texas is going to include San Antonio along with Austin, Dallas, and Houston. The Texas T-Bone makes the most sense because not only does it connect all four, it doesn't take up as much ROW as a DAL-HOU route and a DAL-AUS-SAA. Now are you really going to have passengers transfer in Dallas to get to Austin or San Antonio? Too bad! They've already headed out on US 290 or I-10, or booked a flight. Future expansion would be hindered with a transfer in Dallas if Houston isn't connected to Austin or even Killien-Temple. But not every train would have to stop at every station. Even if DAL-HOU routes are the most popular (would be surprised if that route wasn't the most used) the DAL-HOU trains will just pass through Austin or Temple and stop only at either end. But the HOU-AUS route and HOU-SAA routes will keep the line farther to the south.

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  • 1 year later...

Not so much in the US, but quite a bit overseas. Throughout Europe, and also regularly when I go to Japan.

I think the current use of regional jets like the Embraer, which is becoming more and more popular as airlines don't want to spend more money on bigger jets, is a travesty. Not only are these little jets less efficient in terms of fuel used per passenger carried, they are also clogging the airways and taxiways of America, leading to more delays. The obvious solution, for the environment, for the economy, for peoples' pocketbooks, comfort, and convenience, is to return to rail for regional travel.

It's not that the airline's don't want to spend more money on larger aircraft. It's because they want to provide more frequent flight schedules.

However the Embraer 145s and 135s are becoming less and less popular as they are not very fuel efficient. Now airlines are moving towards the Embraer 170s and 190s.

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  • 3 months later...

Apparently Florida's Governor rejected their $2.4 billion in Stimulus funds for high speed rail. This has left many States vying for these funds including Claifornia, and the District of Columbia. TXDOT has requested $43 million for "preliminary engineering and environmental studies" for a Houston-Dallas line that would be most likely an express with little or no stops.

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Apparently Florida's Governor rejected their $2.4 billion in Stimulus funds for high speed rail. This has left many States vying for these funds including Claifornia, and the District of Columbia. TXDOT has requested $43 million for "preliminary engineering and environmental studies" for a Houston-Dallas line that would be most likely an express with little or no stops.

That's the thing that always kills HSR, even in countries that have it -- all the little stops made for political reasons. Eurostar through France isn't too bad, though it could do without the Lille stop. But the KTX between Seoul and Busan must make a dozen stops, and only one or two people get on at each.

I see no place worth stopping between Houston and Dallas. If there was, Southwest would already fly there.

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That's the thing that always kills HSR, even in countries that have it -- all the little stops made for political reasons. Eurostar through France isn't too bad, though it could do without the Lille stop. But the KTX between Seoul and Busan must make a dozen stops, and only one or two people get on at each.

I see no place worth stopping between Houston and Dallas. If there was, Southwest would already fly there.

Hmm...I could easily see College Station-Bryan becoming a viable stop, but the airport already (and ONLY) flies out to Houston and Dallas.

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I predict HSR will not happen in Texas in my lifetime (I'm 28). Our state and country are in the midst of a debt crises and our state's conservative leaders will never agree to the high costs (ie. requiring new revenue streams) of HSR.

Makes more sense in higher density East Coast and California.

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