Texas Department of Transportation seeks federal funding for San Antonio rail service

TxDOT's letter outlined plans for additional service along the I-35 corridor, and expanded service to the Rio Grande Valley.

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The only Amtrak line that travels along the I-35 corridor, the Texas Eagle, only runs four times a week. - Wikimedia Commons / Tim_kd5urs
Wikimedia Commons / Tim_kd5urs
The only Amtrak line that travels along the I-35 corridor, the Texas Eagle, only runs four times a week.
San Antonio residents finally may get new rail service connecting them to Dallas, Houston and Austin, according to a Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) filing.

In an Oct. 5 letter to the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA), TxDOT Executive Director Marc Williams requested federal funding for the expansion of several railroad corridors, including "new and enhanced, conventional intercity options" along traffic-clogged Interstate 35, which runs north-south through the state.

The proposed projects outlined in the letter include an increase in service on Amtrak's Texas Eagle line connecting San Antonio and Dallas and additional hauls on the Sunset Limited between the Alamo City and Houston.

Currently, the Texas Eagle only runs four days a week, while the Sunset Limited operates on a tri-weekly basis, according to the rail operator's website.

The proposal also includes expanding the Texas Eagle Line south, connecting San Antonio with the Rio Grande Valley and adding a new station on the Sunset Limited Line in Flatonia — located between San Antonio and Houston — to expand rural service.

Williams' request is in response to the FRA's establishment of the Corridor Identification Program. That is funded via the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act passed by the U.S. Senate in November 2021. Not one Texas Republican in the U.S. House or Senate voted in favor of the measure.

The FRA is excepted to decide which projects to fund based on criteria including projected ridership, revenues and capital investment, among others.

TxDOT's request is the latest effort to expand rail service to Texas. It follows a slew of failed public and private projects, including the troubled Dallas to Houston high-speed rail line and the since cancelled Lone Star Rail District train line between San Antonio and Austin.

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