• Texas Central HSR (Houston - DFW Dallas Fort Worth)

  • General discussion of passenger rail proposals and systems not otherwise covered in the specific forums in this category, including high speed rail.
General discussion of passenger rail proposals and systems not otherwise covered in the specific forums in this category, including high speed rail.

Moderators: mtuandrew, gprimr1

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  by Jadebenn
 
Well this is certainly an interesting discussion. I'm not well-equipped to debate the financial merits of this project, so I think I'll continue to just sit back and watch on that front. However, before I do that, I'd like to correct a misconception I noticed while reading Eolosen's post.
eolesen wrote:If TCHSR fails, the RoW and equipment are orphans. N700’s are narrow gauge. You can’t ship them off to Amtrak or Via...
Shinkansen equiipment is standard gauge; not narrow. Doesn't really change the rest of your points regarding re-use of the ROW, but it's still an important correction to make.
  by eolesen
 
Thanks for the loading gauge correction. Doesn't change the fact that you can't just move them somewhere else like the Brightline sets. They're compatible with Amtrak NEC voltage, but that's it. They wouldn't have the support for that equipment or space for the trainsets...

Southwest charges anywhere between $100 and $260 for DAL-HOU. They also play to win, and won't cede ground very easily.

You can continue to look at LON-PAR to explain why it was such a success, but it's not all due to Eurostar. There are fewer full service airlines due to either consolidation or insolvency, thus less of a reason to compete on a head to head basis i.e. BA and BD (British Midland) used to go head to head on schedules, as did AF and Air Liberte (IJ). Both IJ and BD are now history, and you've also seen some consolidation in the LCC space e.g. Go merging with Easyjet.

The fact also still remains that 20 years after it was launched, Eurostar still hasn't met its projected ridership targets. They expected to see 15M per year. Yet, it wasn't until 2016 that they broke 10M riders annually. That's not encouraging for a market where there was no simple way to drive...
  by electricron
 
eolesen wrote: The fact also still remains that 20 years after it was launched, Eurostar still hasn't met its projected ridership targets. They expected to see 15M per year. Yet, it wasn't until 2016 that they broke 10M riders annually. That's not encouraging for a market where there was no simple way to drive...
Many thousands cars and trucks cross the English Channel every day - using a ferry.
From Dover alone, there are 38 ferry crossings a day by four different operators.
https://www.telegraph.co.uk/travel/dest ... e-details/" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;
P&O Ferries
 Lowest standard return: £86 (car plus up to nine passengers)
Crossing time: 90min
Maximum frequency: 23 per day
DFDS Seaways
 Lowest standard return: £70 (car plus up to nine passengers)
Fastest crossing time: 2hr
Maximum frequency: 12 per day
DFDS Seaways
Lowest standard return: £98 (car plus up to two passengers)
Fastest crossing time: 4hr
Maximum frequency: 3 per day
Eurotunnel (whoops, taking your auto by train and not by ship)
Lowest standard return: £158 (car plus up to nine passengers)
Fastest crossing time: 35min
Maximum frequency: 4 per hour

Not from Dover....
Brittany Ferries
Portsmouth-Le Havre
Lowest standard return: £170 (car plus up to two passengers)
Cheapest overnight cabin: £43
Fastest crossing time: 3hr 45min (fastcraft) or 5hr 30min
Maximum frequency: 2 per day
Portsmouth-Caen
Lowest standard return: £170 (car plus up to two passengers)
Cheapest overnight cabin: £43
Fastest crossing time: 6hr
Maximum frequency: 3 per day
Portsmouth-Cherbourg
Lowest standard return: £138 (car plus up to two passengers)
Cheapest overnight cabin: no cabins on this route
Fastest crossing time: 3hr (high-speed service)
Maximum frequency: 2 per day
Poole-Cherbourg
Lowest standard return: £170 (car plus up to two passengers)
Cheapest overnight cabin: £62
Fastest crossing time: 4hr 15min
Maximum frequency: 1 per day
Portsmouth-St Malo
Lowest standard return: £233 (car plus up to two passengers)
Cheapest overnight cabin: £43
Fastest crossing time: 8hr 45min
Maximum frequency: 1 per day
Plymouth-Roscoff
Lowest standard return: £218 (car plus up to two passengers)
Cheapest overnight cabin: £43
Fastest crossing time: 6hr
Maximum frequency: 2 per day

Across the North Sea
Newcastle-Amsterdam
DFDS
Lowest standard return: £316, including two-berth cabin
Fastest crossing time: 12hr (overnight)
Max frequency: 1 per day
Hull-Rotterdam
P&O
Lowest standard return: £338 car plus up to two people, two berth cabin included
Crossing time: 12hr (overnight)
Max frequency: 1 per day
Hull-Zeebrugge
P&O
Lowest standard return: £338 car and two people includes two berth cabin.
Crossing time: 12hr (overnight)
Max frequency: 1 per day
Harwich-Hook of Holland
Stena Line
Lowest standard return: £148 (car plus up to two passengers)
Cheapest overnight cabin: £45 (two berth)
Fastest crossing time: 8hr
Max frequency: 2 per day

Routes to Spain
Brittany Ferries
Portsmouth-Bilbao
Lowest standard return: £558 (car and two passengers) – including cabin
Fastest crossing time: 20hr (cruise-ferry)
Portsmouth-Santander
Lowest standard return: £428 (car and two passengers) – including cabin (cruise-ferry or no-frills économie service)
Fastest crossing time: 24hr
Max frequency: 3 per week
Plymouth-Santander
Lowest standard return: £588 (car and two passengers) – including cabin
Fastest crossing time: 20hr (cruise-ferry)
Max frequency: weekly

Since the ferries to Spain are not at least daily, let's ignore them.
Totaling all the other ferries we should sum up a total of 54 ferries per day, plus many auto rack trains through the Chunnel.

Yes, there are many ways to drive your car from England to Europe.....
  by eolesen
 
I’ve done car ferry crossings. Great option, but you have to add an hour at a minimum to load, possibly 20-30 mins to unload, and many need to be booked in advance, especially during the holidays and weekends.

My idea of simple... being in Houston, and deciding at 2pm that I want to have dinner in Dallas with a friend. I walk to my car, drive to Dallas and am there in a couple hours, possibly back to sleep in my own bed that night. No planning, little cost, no hassle.

The fact there are still ~40 crossings and four operators Dover-Calais twenty years after the Chunnel opened underscores the idea that people won’t always choose the fastest option.
  by electricron
 
True, you might have to book your train trip in advance. You already have to fly. Driving I-45 all the way from Houston to Dallas can be a huge hazzle if you were to have problems along the way, like having a flat tire or other car troubles, or heavens forbid an accident.

I agree most people will not always choose the fastest option because it is usually the more expensive way. People are more tight with their money than governments, and are always looking at how to save money. Even after the trains debut, many will still drive their cars vs taking the train or planes. Yet many will spend their money to ride in a train or plane instead of in their cars. I’m thinking many more will choose the train if its’ fares are actually significantly cheaper than by plane.
  by Jadebenn
 
eolesen wrote:Thanks for the loading gauge correction. Doesn't change the fact that you can't just move them somewhere else like the Brightline sets. They're compatible with Amtrak NEC voltage, but that's it. They wouldn't have the support for that equipment or space for the trainsets...
Ironically, even handwaving away all the other issues, the main thing that would keep the Shinkansen equipment captive is that it's too wide to run anywhere else. Their cars are 11 feet wide compared to our 10 feet and some change. This makes this one of the very, very, few instances where American loading gauges are too small to accomodate foreign rolling stock (and not the other way around).

Back on topic, I'm curious how the financial situation changes if you assume the Japanese government will finance a significant portion of the project at below-market rates (as we've seen them offer with their other HSR ventures abroad). Could that make things pencil-out?
  by mtuandrew
 
Interesting discussion indeed.

The one elephant in the room is potential real estate revenues. Like Amtrak and Brightline, TCRY intends to leverage commercial real estate at every station. Both ends will create new city centers, especially in Houston. How many millions a year will that contribute, in year 10 if not year 1? (I honestly don’t know.)

I’m not sure whether there will also be ROW usage by utility companies, but it would be unsurprising.
  by Arlington
 
If WN fares vary between $100 and $260, what is the average DAL-HOU fare (from BTS?)
If the real number is significantly higher than the $100 I've been using, every bit of that flows to TC's bottom line estimates.
  by dgvrengineer
 
I think TC's entrance into the Dallas-Houston market would generate a "price war" especially if they start to take a significant amount of business from the airlines. So they may not be able to get $100 or more per trip at least until things settle out.
  by eolesen
 
mtuandrew wrote:Interesting discussion indeed.

The one elephant in the room is potential real estate revenues. Like Amtrak and Brightline, TCRY intends to leverage commercial real estate at every station. Both ends will create new city centers, especially in Houston. How many millions a year will that contribute, in year 10 if not year 1? (I honestly don’t know.)

I’m not sure whether there will also be ROW usage by utility companies, but it would be unsurprising.
Yeah, not so sure about creating a new city center.... they’re favoring area that are brownfield development, but that doesn’t always mean it’s going to work.

Northwest Mall in HOU is the preferred site. The mall has been shuttered for almost two years, but had been sitting at 70% or less occupancy for most of the prior ten years. It sits right next to the interchange of US290 and I-610, which is otherwise a largely industrial area. Outside the mall footprint, the Houston ISD has an adjacent parcel where it has its admin offices, as well as a sports complex (large arena and several football/soccer fields. Access to the site is poor, as the interchange forces the nearest exits to be about a mile in either direction along 610. Extending the light rail network to the site would require about 7 miles on the green/purple lines.

The Dallas site is almost downtown, and considerably better. It’s on the light rail network, but also suffers to a lesser degree from poor road access.
  by Arlington
 
Both sites are essentially better than Brightline's in terms of potential. Similar "neighborhood from nothing" mechanics and two substantially-larger metro economies.

The Brazos/College Station area is interesting but there will undoubtedly be households where "he" works in Dallas and "she" works in Houston. It will be the ultimate "serve both markets" location for people who mostly work at home but have clients at either end. This is similar to what's powered NEC ridership at BWI and all of Amtrak Virginia.

All of which goes to: Don't minimize the potential that real estate will contribute substantially to TCs ability to pay back its loans.
  by mtuandrew
 
Mr. Olesen: that Northwest Mall site looks like a gem in terms of redevelopment. The mall is half of the draw, but look at all the light industrial properties opposite the tracks ripe for adding value. Lofts are starting to creep into the area off Post Oak, and there are already high-rises across the freeway so it has some weight as a commercial center. Houston Independent School District is a draw in its own way, as an additional anchor for public transit and as a development relief valve (they have a LOT of surface parking lots that could be garages & mixed-use.) The highway access issue is real, but if Texas Central makes this their home, they will work with the state to vastly improve access from the Northwest and West Loop Freeways.

And, if TCRY does change its mind and move downtown later, congrats! they just created $500M in real estate value and a valuable suburban station like RTE, NCR, or MET on Amtrak.
  by Jadebenn
 
If I could stake out a middle ground here, I do believe the Texas Central project will be a government-subsidized venture; just not by our government.

Following Japan's other overseas HSR ventures, there's always been a financing component. The Japanese seem to have come to the conclusion they can't beat the Europeans on cost, so they use the offer of below market-rate financing to entice potential customers. In India, Indonesia, and Taiwan, the Japan Bank for International Cooperation (JBIC) has offered low-interest financing to help cover the costs of these Shinkansen projects.

Considering some of TCR's behavior (in addition to the fact that the JBIC has already given them $300M to bring the federal permitting process to a close), I have very little doubt that they have some sort of deal with TCR to do the same here as well. In fact, a lot of TCR's seemingly odd behavior makes sense when analyzed under this assumption, such as why the project's purpose as listed in the DEIS is NOT for a non-specific HSR system connecting Houston and Dallas, but for an HSR system utilizing the N700I system. TCR must have intentionally baked it into their EIS as part of their agreement with their Japanese backers.

Now, I doubt the financing for the Texas project will be as generous as some of the deals given to some of the less-developed countries above. Private investment will almost certainly be required to make up the difference. Still, I'd imagine they're planning to front a pretty significant chunk of it (if you'll pardon my hearsay, I've heard the current prediction is about half of the financial requirements, but don't quote me on that).
  by frequentflyer
 
Arlington wrote:If WN fares vary between $100 and $260, what is the average DAL-HOU fare (from BTS?)
If the real number is significantly higher than the $100 I've been using, every bit of that flows to TC's bottom line estimates.
No it won't, SWA would be happy for the TC to take most of the DAL-HOU business. SWA only has 20 gates at the new Love Field Terminal and by law its prevented from expanding for a couple of more years. SWA has roughly 20 or more flights from DAL-HOU ( down from the heyday of almost 40 flights every thirty minutes). SWA would love to replace some of those short hops with longer higher yielding flights say to either coasts from DAL. Its the reason why SWA did not fight this TC proposal like they did the previous high speed effort in the 90s.
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