Full steam ahead for high-speed rail to Arlington, Fort Worth, Waco, Austin, Laredo

The effort to build high-speed trains connecting Dallas, Arlington and Fort Worth — and eventually Waco, Austin, Laredo and possibly Monterrey, Mexico — took a step forward Thursday.

The Regional Transportation Council, the official planning body for 16 North Texas counties, on Thursday approved $500,000 to continue studying the proposal, which has been in the works for several years.

“We are making steady progress,” said Bill Meadows of Fort Worth, who chairs the commission overseeing the proposal.

The money includes a $300,000 federal grant plus $200,000 from metropolitan transportation agencies along the Interstate 35 corridor.

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The item was approved unanimously as part of the RTC‘s consent agenda during a regular meeting in Arlington.

Bullet trains like those used in Japan soon could be running from Dallas to Houston, and now region officials are advancing a study of high-speed rail to Fort Worth, Waco, Austin, Laredo and Monterrey. Central Japan Railway

The move comes as officials from Texas Central Railway continue with their plans to build a bullet train from Dallas to Houston, making it possible to travel between those cities in about 90 minutes. That project would use technology created by the operators of the world-renowned high-speed rail system in Japan.

Although Texas Central Railway has no plans to extend its Japanese-style trains to Arlington or Fort Worth, officials in Tarrant County and neighboring communities on the western part of the Metroplex have been adamant that they don‘t want to be left out of any such high-speed rail plans.

Meadows said high-speed rail companies from France and China are interested in building a line that serves cities along the I-35 corridor, including Waco, Austin, San Antonio and beyond. The line could eventually extend to Laredo and south of the border to Monterrey, Mexico.

Meadows said North Texas officials want to make sure that line also serves not just Dallas but also Arlington and Fort Worth.

“The French company and the Chinese company are most interested in the 35 corridor,” he said. “In terms of passenger demand, they think the corridor from downtown Fort Worth is an intriguing path. I think we will find the traffic is there.”

Gordon Dickson: ;