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Abandoned Light Rail Track on Holmes Road?


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I was walking around yesterday and noticed that there appears to be a light rail track that goes along Holmes from the MetroRail depot for 1.7 miles.  The rails are rusted, and there's bushes growing into it, so it's not used very often if at all.  Any ideas what it is?

 

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That was my first thought, but going through the older threads on this forum I saw a picture of a rail car arriving on a flat bed truck.  Also, the light rail spur doesn't connect to the freight line next to it at all.  What is especially weird is that it is single tracked, not double tracked.

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I believe that's the only stretch of line where the light rail cars can reach their top speed of 66 mph.

66 mph?! Wow, why CAN'T this be a starter line to a Sugarland commuter rail? I thought their top speed was maybe 40-45 at best.

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yeah they hit 66mph, which is part of why I've been suggesting for years that some of the future commuter routes be "LRT-Commuter hybrid" routes, utilizing the same LRT vehicles so they can switch over/run directly onto our local LRT tracks without any stops/transfers.. functioning basically how they now have this 90A commuter line planned (the trains are supposed to merge onto the Red line up to Wheeler).

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yeah they hit 66mph, which is part of why I've been suggesting for years that some of the future commuter routes be "LRT-Commuter hybrid" routes, utilizing the same LRT vehicles so they can switch over/run directly onto our local LRT tracks without any stops/transfers.. functioning basically how they now have this 90A commuter line planned (the trains are supposed to merge onto the Red line up to Wheeler).

Ahh Cloud, if only us pro transit HAIFERS designed Houstons rail lines. We would have a system that rivals the alpha cities of the world.

Oh and I'll beat the snarky anti-rail posters to the punch and say that we would would also bankrupt the city, the state, put thousands of companies out of business and kill countless citizens as well.

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If there's any silver lining to the hempstead tollway being delayed half a decade or more, it's that maybe they'll put in a commuter rail in down the middle of it. Then again if Cypress does really get that HSR stop like some people are speculating, then this corridor would need a commuter line the least.

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Do you actually think anyone would use commuter rail?

 

I think locally around each stop it definitely would be used a lot, especially the further out you go. Ridership may potentially start out low overall but will definitely build with time, and will allow for the city to continue growing. As traffic gets worse in the coming decades, if there were no existing options, the traffic could potentially start affecting the quality of life enough to make residents and companies no longer want to be located here. These commuter rails will be the solution, if not absolutely 100% necessary today, they will be in the future.

When Cypress gets their HSR station at 290/Grand Parkway, then perhaps METRO could work out a deal to use the HSR line for commuter tracks?

I thought about that as well, but I could see a potential issue regarding sharing the track when the HSR line is coming through. Perhaps they could build out the commuter line on the same ROW space if there's enough room, although I can tell you right now that currently there's a bunch of areas where there wouldn't be room to add multiple (4) track lanes. I'm still confused how they're going to be able to widen it to 2 lanes for inbound and outbound traffic.

Edited by curbur
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I was walking around yesterday and noticed that there appears to be a light rail track that goes along Holmes from the MetroRail depot for 1.7 miles.  The rails are rusted, and there's bushes growing into it, so it's not used very often if at all.  Any ideas what it is?

 

Yes, it was used for testing the original LRVs. It's on UP property and either reverted to them or they won't let METRO use it anymore or something. I seem to recall a story about an LRV hitting at UP truck that had driven under a crossing gate.

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 I thought about that as well, but I could see a potential issue regarding sharing the track when the HSR line is coming through. Perhaps they could build out the commuter line on the same ROW space if there's enough room, although I can tell you right now that currently there's a bunch of areas where there wouldn't be room to add multiple (4) track lanes. I'm still confused how they're going to be able to widen it to 2 lanes for inbound and outbound traffic.

Well, if we assume the line would follow the train tracks up until Hempstead, then it would more than likely be an elevated track over the existing freight rail. Who's to say METRO won't add another track next to the freight rail for commuter, or possibly use the HSR track for a commuter rail? TCR has stated that the goal would be to have trains come in every 30ish minutes, which is plenty of time for a couple of cars to make the trip up and/or down the pathway. To do this, though, they would be required to use the Shinkansen style of train rather than their own light rail trams...which I think we can all agree on would be pretty badass.

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I read in the old thread that was talking about taking delivery of the "new" 200 series light rail vehicles that up to 4 can be hooked together.

 

It's important to remember that the limitation is not just how many cars can functionally be linked together, but you also have to consider the length of the shortest platform.  Otherwise when the train stops for unloading, people on every car can't get off the train.

 

There are work-arounds though, like warning the riders slightly in advance that Car X does not exit at Station Y so please make your way to an appropriate car.  That works for most people, but may be a little difficult for people with mobility issues or new riders and out-of-towners who are not familiar with the stations.

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The length of the trains (and platforms) are limited by the length of the blocks downtown.

I seem to remember that one of my first posts, when I was still a high schooler, I asked why the trains were so short, and the "they'll block crossings" was the response. Don't go looking for that post. :mellow:

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The station/transit hub(?) just south of the TMC/Holcombe has room for longer trains too. And I guess Reliant Park. There would be a few decent spots one could stop at, but I guess it's a matter of getting around the local trains..?

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I took some measurements using Google earth of the Red line stations, and then looked at how many LRVs could fit (assuming one is 96' long)

 

Fannin South - 2 - 4

Reliant Park - 3 - 6, though they would have to close Reliant parkway to get more than 3

Smithlands - 2 - 4

TMC Transit Center - 3 - 5

Dryden TMC - 4

Memorial Herman Hospital/Houston Zoo - 3 - 7

Herman Park/Rice U - 3 - 4

Museum District - 3

Wheeler - 2 - 5

Ensemble/HCC - 2 - 5

McGowen (SB) - 2 - 16

McGowen (NB) - 2 - 11

[Downtown] - 2

UH Downtown - 2 - 7

Burnett Transit Center/Casa de Amigos - 2 - 5

 

It looks like a 3 car train could easily make it to Wheeler with only minor adjustments, and 4 car train with some doable adjustments ...but only if they skipped the museum district stations.  That being said, Wheeler is about 40 blocks from where anyone who's commuting downtown wants to go, so they'd either have to switch trains or the train would have to split there.  Neither sound attractive.

 

Interestingly, the way they made the light rail through midtown means that they can have super long station platforms if they wanted.

 

Edit:

The preview showed my excel spreadsheet copying nicely, but it looked horrible when I posted it.  I took out the measurements and retyped it 

Edited by cspwal
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You think people wouldn't?

 

None of my colleagues who would be likely users seem willing to give up their cars. Conceptually, it's a good idea, but I am somewhat skeptical about actual usage. I also don't trust Metro to build it with enough parking at the outlying stations. If the stations are hard to access, no one will use it.

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None of my colleagues who would be likely users seem willing to give up their cars. Conceptually, it's a good idea, but I am somewhat skeptical about actual usage. I also don't trust Metro to build it with enough parking at the outlying stations. If the stations are hard to access, no one will use it.

Most of the suburban park and rides in the outlying suburbs have adequate parking, so I'm not sure why you think this would be any different. In addition, it's not like people would have to give up their cars entirely or have to utilize mass transit everyday, but it certainly would be a convenient option for some days. You're telling me you wouldn't want an additional hour or two every day on the train where you can work on stuff/stream videos/listen to music while relaxing instead of fighting traffic?

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Most of the suburban park and rides in the outlying suburbs have adequate parking, so I'm not sure why you think this would be any different. In addition, it's not like people would have to give up their cars entirely or have to utilize mass transit everyday, but it certainly would be a convenient option for some days. You're telling me you wouldn't want an additional hour or two every day on the train where you can work on stuff/stream videos/listen to music while relaxing instead of fighting traffic?

No brother they're going to take my car keys from my cold dead hands

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Most of the suburban park and rides in the outlying suburbs have adequate parking, so I'm not sure why you think this would be any different. In addition, it's not like people would have to give up their cars entirely or have to utilize mass transit everyday, but it certainly would be a convenient option for some days. You're telling me you wouldn't want an additional hour or two every day on the train where you can work on stuff/stream videos/listen to music while relaxing instead of fighting traffic?

 

I live 3 miles from work, so it doesn't really affect me. I was commenting on what colleagues who commute have said. which is mostly, they prefer to drive on, regardless of traffic

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You would love that, Slick, since you are all about telling everyone else what to do.

Let me guess are you against the government making you buy health care? And in the 70's when you were a young adult were you against airports starting security after the db cooper hijacking? Your motto is probably is freedom and liberty I'm sure.

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I think this thread has run its course.

 

You'd like to think that, wouldn't you!

 

Regarding the number of cars that can be hooked together and run up the red line, the max is two. It's not just block size where stations are located that needs to be considered. Any block with a stoplight. If it had to stop at one intersection, it can't hang it's big butt out into the previous intersection.

 

Even if there is just one example that proves it to be impossible, you can't do it.

 

The block in front of the bus station is just long enough for two trains. It's not the only example, I'm sure, but it's really all that's needed to only ever allow for 2 trains.

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I didn't think of that.  A longer train might make it to the Med Center, but only if the intersections into NRG could be temporarily closed if the long train shows up.  Realistically, they would most likely only run 2 car trains - and it would be an extension similar to Northline, where the train makes all the stops because there aren't passing loops on the Redline, but some trains only go from Burnett to Fannin South, while others go Nortline to Sugarland.

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yeah they hit 66mph, which is part of why I've been suggesting for years that some of the future commuter routes be "LRT-Commuter hybrid" routes, utilizing the same LRT vehicles so they can switch over/run directly onto our local LRT tracks without any stops/transfers.. functioning basically how they now have this 90A commuter line planned (the trains are supposed to merge onto the Red line up to Wheeler).

 

It would also be great if METRO could create siding bypasses around several stations to create the means by which to create a local and an express route for the Red Line that would only stop at every third or so station. You wouldn't need an entire new track, just a few hundred yards of new track around some stations--or create new off-line stations at certain locations to achieve the same. Burnett TC is already built for such a possibility. Sure would be great to travel from Northline TC to Reliant in half or a third of the time.

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Most of the time is spent stopping in downtown, midtown, and the med center where there isn't really room to make passing loops.  Those platforms are about 60 feet across, while the Metro ROW on Main street is only about 35 feet.  I wonder though if having more cross-overs could work, so one train could pass another on the left like a 2 lane country road.

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They aren't going to build something as massive as this and not build it to maximize use and profits. And yeah people, such as your colleagues won't use it because the culutre in this city is still the car. As the culutre changes from generation to generation, that commuter rail will be worth all the trouble.

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None of my colleagues who would be likely users seem willing to give up their cars. Conceptually, it's a good idea, but I am somewhat skeptical about actual usage. I also don't trust Metro to build it with enough parking at the outlying stations. If the stations are hard to access, no one will use it.

 

 

This is why accurate polling requires a decently sized, representative sample of the population.  :mellow:  

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They aren't going to build something as massive as this and not build it to maximize use and profits. And yeah people, such as your colleagues won't use it because the culutre in this city is still the car. As the culutre changes from generation to generation, that commuter rail will be worth all the trouble.

In the green/purple thread a reference to downtown commuter survey was referenced. I was surprised to see how many people said their business subsidized parking downtown, and I was equally surprised when I saw how many would switch to mass transit if their business subsidized that instead.

I think we're closer than you might think. It will probably take government giving out tax breaks for companies that subsidize mass transit over cars though.

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In the green/purple thread a reference to downtown commuter survey was referenced. I was surprised to see how many people said their business subsidized parking downtown, and I was equally surprised when I saw how many would switch to mass transit if their business subsidized that instead.

I think we're closer than you might think. It will probably take government giving out tax breaks for companies that subsidize mass transit over cars though.

 

My employees have the choice of either paid basic parking or a METRO Q card - from a dollars and cents standpoint it's not much of a difference for me; likewise it's not a huge line item in the compensation package.  Those who take the transit option are generally either on rail or (more likely) a Park and Ride; I can't remember the last time anyone in my shop chose to commute by regular bus. 

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  • 5 years later...
On 6/22/2015 at 10:29 AM, cspwal said:

I was walking around yesterday and noticed that there appears to be a light rail track that goes along Holmes from the MetroRail depot for 1.7 miles.  The rails are rusted, and there's bushes growing into it, so it's not used very often if at all.  Any ideas what it is?

 

Took a trek into Pierce Junction this week. Went along Holmes road in between the abandoned light rail track and the TRRC live tracks.

 

You are right lots of sharp bushes growing! Ouch!

 

KayhLev.jpg

 

Walking down the tracks leads you to a dirt road in PJ.

 

mbtDvMr.jpg

 

On 6/22/2015 at 6:12 PM, JLWM8609 said:

I believe that's the only stretch of line where the light rail cars can reach their top speed of 66 mph.

 

The abandoned tracks had a 66 sign posted.

 

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  • Highrise Tower changed the title to Abandoned Light Rail Track on Holmes Road?
9 hours ago, j_cuevas713 said:

So why is this track abandoned or were there plans to connect it to future rail?

It was the test track for the rail cars before all of the other track was built. It runs from the rail operations center at Fannin and Holmes, alongside the freight tracks, until just past Buffalo Speedway. 

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