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Bullet Train Dreams & A Current North Texas City-To-City Rail Option

NORTH TEXAS (CBSDFW.COM) - A plan to triple the speed of a trip from North Texas to Houston got an official push forward from the government Wednesday. The process needed to build a high-speed train is officially on the books.

Since the Federal Railroad Administration published a "notice of intent" for an environmental impact statement on the Texas Central High-Speed Rail Corridor, the process of looking at possible train routes has begun.

Fort Worth would love for the route to run through the city, though right now the plan is to go just between Dallas and Houston.

While the Railroad Administration notice doesn't mean the Texas bullet train is a sure thing, the proposal now carries a lot more weight than when it was just a bright idea.

The environmental impact statement will start analyzing the impact of a "dedicated HSR (High Speed Rail) system," looking at how it would affect "railroads, roads… agricultural, [and] residential," properties.

The private company pushing the new route is promising a 200-mile-per-hour trip, exceeding expectations of "every" traveler.

As it stands, the best expectation for a North Texas rail is probably the Trinity Railway Express. So, a CBS 11 news crew bought a ticket, climbed on board, and went for a ride to see how it might measure up to the high-speed promise.

The crew left on time, at 4:42 pm, headed to Dallas. The train moves along at 80 miles per hour. The route goes through undeveloped property, so there's not much to look at. Generally riders busy themselves working, reading or sleeping.

The fastest option for North Texans though sometimes still involves stops. The pause is only for a minute or two, enough time for passengers to get off and let others on, but the stops add up. Passengers riding the length of the TRE, from Fort Worth to Dallas, will have to stop eight times.

The CBS 11 crew wasn't lonely; the rail option seemed to be a popular one. The crew couldn't get up and walk around to see more, because it was standing room only until the last stop.

The TRE got the crew to Dallas and back to Fort Worth in less than an hour, each way. The travel time was pretty quick for rush hour, although GPS said the same trips would have been 20 minutes quicker traveling by car.

In fact, it seems that more people are moving away from our current fastest rail and going back to vehicle travel. Overall, TRE ridership has dropped every year since 2009.

As far as the federal process goes, it could take more than a year to get the environmental impact statement. The government is currently taking comments on the overall proposal.

(©2014 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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