Amtrak and the Texas Department of Transportation have agreed to conduct a feasibility study for future Amtrak service that could one day connect Fort Worth to Shreveport/Bossier City - a popular destination for Texans who enjoying visiting the casinos.
The proposed route would roughly follow the Interstate 20 corridor, with trains traveling up to 79 mph, mostly along tracks owned by Union Pacific Railroad. Between Fort Worth and Marshall, the train would follow the existing Amtrak Texas Eagle route - although the Texas Department of Transportation has asked that the study also evaluate the pros and cons of tweaking that route as well.
The transportation department would like to explore moving the Texas Eagle, which currently uses Union Pacific's tracks through Arlington, onto the Trinity Railway Express tracks in Northeast Tarrant County. Under that proposal, Amtrak would stop at Dallas and Fort Worth, as well as Centreport/DFW Airport.
TxDOT has received $265,000 in federal funds for the study through the East Texas Corridor Coalition, an organization pushing for economic development in east Texas, northwestern Louisiana and southwestern Arkansas.
U.S. Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison, R-Texas, attended an event announcing the study Thursday in Marshall.
The study is the result of four years of effort, said Richard Anderson, who chairs the council and is a former state senator.
"The study should produce a review of increasing the efficiency of passenger rail in our Ark-La-Tex region by complementing existing rail service and determining projected costs for this project. The results of this study will then take us to the next level," Anderson said in a statement.
Amtrak passengers can already buy a ticket for travel between Fort Worth and Shreveport, but the train only takes them as far east as Longview. From there, a thruway bus connection is needed. That connection adds time to the route, and makes it less desirable for leisure travelers.