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Department of Transportation investigates revival of iconic train route: ‘Making these steps in the right direction’

“You just can’t pour enough concrete and asphalt to take care of traffic in the next ten, twenty, thirty, forty years here in Texas.”

"You just can’t pour enough concrete and asphalt to take care of traffic in the next ten, twenty, thirty, forty years here in Texas."

Photo Credit: iStock

Everything’s bigger in Texas — including the highway congestion — so the new possibility of a passenger rail between Dallas and Houston is making waves in the Lone Star State.

While an Amtrak train called the Texas Eagle operated on the route in the 20th century, the service was shuttered in 1995. 

“I’m sorry I never rode it before,” one woman told the Associated Press as the Eagle made its final ride, as reported by Texas Monthly. 

But for train and public transportation enthusiasts, there may be hope yet. 

The Texas Department of Transportation recently received funding from the Federal Railroad Administration to conduct several studies as the first step in exploring the practicality of reestablishing passenger railways, as the Texas Monthly reported. These studies will explore the possibilities along the old Dallas-Houston Eagle route, as well as between Houston and San Antonio.

It’s encouraging news for public transportation advocates like Peter LeCody, the president of Texas Rail Advocates. For context, TxDOT allocated railways only $21 million out of a $37 billion budget in 2024, according to Texas Monthly. 

“Passenger rail really has not been in TxDOT’s vocabulary at all. We’re pleased to see that TxDOT is making these steps in the right direction,” LeCody told Texas Monthly. 

TxDOT estimated the cost of establishing the Dallas-Houston line will be $1.3 billion — a fraction of the $10 billion they’ve already committed to expanding a portion of Interstate 45, which serves only approximately 10% of the distance the railway would cover. 

Groups like Texas Rail Advocates hope this relatively low price point will be a deciding factor for TxDOT.

For Texans, the benefits of rail service would be multifold. Texas leads the country in traffic accidents (per AutoInsurance.org) and transportation-related carbon pollution (per Statista). While passenger trains, especially high-speed bullet trains, are popular in other countries, they don’t have the same presence in the U.S.

However, there are steps that people can take to improve their safety and reduce their pollution, independent of government funding. Switching to an electric vehicle, biking whenever possible, and taking public transportation all help with these goals — anything, LeCody agrees, other than simply building more highways.

“You just can’t pour enough concrete and asphalt to take care of traffic in the next ten, twenty, thirty, forty years here in Texas,” he told Texas Monthly. “We’ve got to look at some multimodal solutions.”

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