With an international border and major shipping ports, Texas needs to maintain a competitive edge in national and international trade. Rail relocation will allow Texas to remain competitive by increasing our transportation capacity and efficiencies. The removal of freight traffic from urban lines will allow for possible economic redevelopment areas to transition from industrial to commercial and residential uses.
Freight rail car traffic in Texas has doubled since the passage of NAFTA and is estimated to increase 65-85% in the next 20 years2. This increased traffic causes delays for freight that is simply passing through urban areas and more delays for automotive traffic at crossings. By relocating rail lines out of the urban core, freight can be move more efficiently while opening the existing urban lines up to conversion to public transit, bike trails or new roads.
Texas ranks first in the nation in injuries caused by train accidents1. Currently, major rail lines pass through the heart of most urban areas of Texas. This means hundreds of at-grade road crossings, increasing the likelihood of potentially deadly collisions between trains and cars. In addition, some freight rail cars contain large amounts of toxic chemicals that could injure or kill hundreds or thousands if a collision or derailment occurs.
A freight train can haul one ton of freight an average of 436 miles on one gallon of fuel3. By increasing rail capacity and efficiency with rail relocation, we can take less fuel-efficient trucks off the road. In addition, existing urban rail lines can be converted to multimodal use like public transit and bike trails to remove passenger cars from the road.
1Federal Railroad Administration, 2007
2Texas Rail System Plan, published by TxDOT
3Association of American Railroads, 2008