Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Rail Bait

Cintra-Zachry proposes $5 billion Texas rail line

High-speed freight line could run trains at 70 mph

March 29, 2006

By Ben Wear
Austin American-Statesman
Copyright 2006

Cintra-Zachry, the Spanish and American partnership already in line to build a cross-state toll road, has offered to build a 600-mile, high-speed freight rail track from the Dallas-Fort Worth area to Mexico.

Numerous details remain to be worked out, and competitors could in the end build the line instead. But Cintra-Zachry has offered to spend at least $5 billion, officials say, and open the line to any freight rail company interested in paying to use it.

The proposal, as outlined by Texas Transportation Commission members Wednesday, would not require Union Pacific to remove any freight traffic from its track that cuts through the heart of the the Austin-San Marcos area.

However, Transportation Commissioner Ric Williamson said that companies such as Union Pacific would no doubt be attracted to the line's top speed of 70 miles per hour, considerably faster than existing routes.

Union Pacific's Austin-area segment is part of a longer line that runs from St. Louis to Laredo and moves more than two dozen freight trains each day.; 445-3698 © 2006 Austin American-Statesman: