TEXRail tour shows progress on Fort Worth commuter line

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A Swiss-built Stadler FLIRT 3 diesel multiple unit stands ready for use on TEXRail when the Fort Worth, Texas-based commuter railroad begins operations in 2018.
Hayley Enoch
FORT WORTH, Texas — The Fort Worth Transportation Authority is making visible progress on TEXRail train right-of-way it will operate between downtown Fort Worth to the Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport.

On Monday, the agency organized a construction site tour for media, local government officials, and businesses interested in the railroad’s progress.
Contractors are updating the tracks to support passenger trains running up to 58 mph and positive train control technology. Other crews are excavating earth and pouring concrete at most of the nine stations planned between Fort Worth and the airport.

The tour made particular note of one location called the "hole in the wall," where the new tracks needed to be routed through a narrow culvert where ground-level railroad tracks, elevated tracks, and a highway overpass already converge. Not only did building tracks in this existing rail corridor require negotiations with Union Pacific, BNSF Railway, Amtrak, utility companies, and the Texas Department of Transportation, but routing an additional track through such a narrow area required ingenuity from the project engineers.

"We don't have enough horizontal space to put the tracks in without doing some demolition and rearranging, so we're having to work on all three levels," authority President and CEO Paul Ballard says. "There's a lot of coordination with different agencies and organizations involved that has made this complicated, but also a lot of fun, and as you can see, progress is being made."

Tour participants also got a chance to view the equipment that will operate along the route: The first of eight Stadler-built diesel multiple units that arrived in Texas recently and are being stored on a siding in Grapevine, Texas. Each train will be able to carry 488 people and will include a quiet car, the first put into use on a Texas passenger train.

TEXRail is the first commuter train in the U.S. to order Stadler’s FLIRT 3. Officials called the model the "bigger brother" of the Stadler GTW 2/6s currently in use in nearby Denton County and on Austin's Capital Metro Rail.

The rest of the units will be delivered by early 2018. The last units will arrive after construction has been completed at the equipment and maintenance facility where the eight DMUs will be stored, cleaned, refueled, and repaired. That scheduling, says David G. Campbell, vice president of Huitt-Zollars, the firm that designed the facility, will allow for another first: The last of the DMUs will be delivered complete and rolled into the facility, instead of being delivered on flatbed rail cars in sections and being put all the way together after arrival.

TEXrail is scheduled to open for service in late 2018. It is projected to carry 8,000 riders a day in its first year of operation, and its ridership is projected to expand to 14,000 riders a day by 2035.
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