High-Speed Rail Between Mexico and Texas by 2018?

by Important Media Cross-Post Heather Carr.

A proposed high-speed rail line between San Antonio, Texas and Monterrey, Mexico could improve trade, reduce travel time, and increase tourism between the two countries.
A proposed high-speed rail line between San Antonio, Texas, Laredo, Texas, and Monterrey, Mexico could improve trade, reduce travel time, and increase tourism between the two countries. The Mexico portion is already funded and completion on that side of the border should happen by 2018.

Originally published on Gas2.

Representative Henry Cuellar (who represents a crazy-shaped district in Texas that runs from the west side of San Antonio, around to the south of the city, then takes a sharp left to the Rio Grande above Laredo and down to McAllen) is the author of the idea.

Rep. Cuellar, Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) Commissioner Jeff Austin, and Mexican officials met with U.S. Secretary of Transportation Anthony Foxx to discuss the plan on Thursday.

The proposed high-speed rail line would run from San Antonio, Texas to Monterrey, Mexico through Laredo, Texas. The trip, which usually takes five hours to drive, not including stops, would take less than two hours on a high-speed train.

High-Speed Rail Between Monterrey and San Antonio

Monterrey is a wealthy industrial and business center in Mexico, and is home to the headquarters of many large Mexican and international corporations. In 2008, the GDP of the city was US$102 billion. More than four million people live in the Monterrey metropolitan area, and several naturally beautiful areas surround the city. Combined with the year-round gentle climate, this makes it attractive to outdoors enthusiasts as well.

San Antonio, at the other end of the proposed high-speed rail line, is similarly bustling with industry. The metro area is about half the size of Monterrey’s, with a little over two million people. Caves, natural areas, and theme parks in the region make it a popular tourist destination. It’s also very romantic, if you’re looking for a nice place for a wedding or weekend getaway.

Funding for Texas High Speed Rail

The project would be a joint effort between the U.S. and Mexico. On the Mexican side, funds are already in place to build the infrastructure necessary for new high-rail lines. Construction is planned to begin in 2015 and be finished as early as 2018.

Funding for high-speed rail on the U.S. side is a little more uncertain, although Rep. Cuellar says he believes the proposed high-speed rail would be built using mostly private funds. In recent years, the south Texas economy has relied more and more on construction (and wind farms! We love the wind farms!). Building a high-speed rail line through the area would continue the current economic boom.

With trade between the U.S. and Mexico at about US$500 billion, high-speed rail makes good sense for both the local and national economy. But can a deep-red state like Texas take the lead on a light-blue infrastructure project like high-speed rail?

Source: Daily Mail | Image: Jon Curnow/CC

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This article, US–Mexico High-Speed Railway Proposed, is syndicated from Clean Technica and is posted here with permission.

California High-Speed Rail To Have Net Zero Emissions

By Guest Contributor – Roy L Hales

This article was first published on San Diego Loves Green
By Roy L Hales

california high speed rail

Construction on the first 65 miles of California’s high-speed rail project is about to beginThat is despite a new bill from Congress’ transportation committee, which has blocked funding in 2014. The Republican-controlled House was too slow, they already provided $3.5 billion and the money cannot be taken back. Now the California’s High Speed Rail Authority has released a report stating the project will produce zero net greenhouse gas emissions.

“Our commitment is to make positive environmental contributions from day one.” — Authority CEO Jeff Morales

This does not allay concerns about the impact this project would have on 11 endangered species along the route, but does address the problem of air pollution from the diesel machinery that will lay down the tracks.

“High-speed rail will transform the state’s transportation system while reducing greenhouse gas emissions and providing environmental benefits for years to come.” — Jeff Morales

The CO2 produced during construction is to be offset by a tree planting program. Only recycled concrete and steel is to be used and contractors will be required to divert 75 % of their non-hazardous waste from landfills.

“The contractors will also be directed to explore methods to reduce the amount of potable water used onsite. These practical activities, including anti-idling programs, water efficiency, energy efficiency, and the use of fuel-efficient vehicles are among those that have been proven effective for reducing both GHG emissions and costs on many infrastructure projects.” — Jeff Morales.

The system is to run on 100% clean energy.

“To estimate GHG emissions associated with the electricity purchased by the Authority for traction power, which is the power needed to propel the train along the rails, and facilities operations, the Authority assumed a mix of 20 percent solar, 30 percent wind, 45 percent geothermal, and 5 percent biogas (methane capture).” Jeff Morales.

Thus the GHG emission reduction is calculated in terms of the number of passengers that choose to ride the high-speed rail system rather than use a car or airplane.

The Report’s Summary of Findings
The Report’s Summary of Findings.

“This analysis of greenhouse gas reductions clearly demonstrates that the high-speed rail project is an integral part of California’s overall climate goals,” said California Air Resources Board Chairman Mary Nichols. “This project will serve in the near term as the backbone of a more sustainable growth strategy in the San Joaquin Valley, and over time will provide a climate-friendly transportation option linking southern and northern California.”

“This report details important steps that the High-Speed Rail Authority is taking to curb greenhouse gas emissions in California and embrace renewable energy during operations,” said Brian Kelly, Secretary of the California State Transportation Agency. “High-speed rail is a key part of meeting the state’s mobility, safety and sustainability objectives.”

In Europe, where high-speed rail systems have been is use for decades, they also have a track record of stimulating local economies.

“Lille diversified into knowledge-intensive, service-producing activities once it was connected via high speed rail to London, Paris and Brussels. High-speed rail investment helped the city turnaround from depopulation and declining economic sectors. After being connected to high-speed rail in 1981, Nantes has evolved from an industrial port to a major service sector hub and one of the world’s most livable cities.”

California high speed rail map complete

If the high-speed rail system proceeds according to plan, by 2029 it will connect San Francisco to Los Angeles. The cost for this first phase of construction is estimated at $68 billion. Phase two, which will extend the system to cover the 800 miles between Sacramento and San Diego, is to come later.

Yet there may be opposition in the Republican dominated House, which has just axed the funding for a similar project connecting Las Vegas to California.

“At a certain point, they have made it very clear that they are going to need $38 billion in federal funds,” said Jeff Denham, Chairman of the House Railway Committee.“

(Read “San Diego and the hoped for Resurgence of passenger trains“)

Graphs and images taken from the California High Speed Rail Authority Report, Contribution of the High-Speed Rail Program to Reducing California’s Greenhouse Gas Emission Levels (June 2013).