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Re-purposing all existing track within Austin and the surrounding townships to only be for passenger rail

The idea for this is basically to lay the foundations to make it possible for Austin to have a metro system

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As it currently stands right now, every single foot of track in and around Austin serves only one main purpose, that of freight. If there were a strong enough effort on the City's part and the State of Texas, we could re-purpose all existing track in and around Austin to be used for only passenger rail. This would include lines like the one from Downtown to Elgin, Downtown to Georgetown, and Taylor to Kyle. Each one of these lines would be designated for "Only Passenger Lines" and would then make it possible for Austin to begin the transformation into having its own metro system. All freight lines would be rebuilt around the city and would be moved to a special freight yard outside the city where trucks could go to pick up their freight. The inspiration for this comes from my travel in Asia in places like Japan and South Korea, where I learned that over there they made sure to distinguish freight lines and passenger lines very clearly. They also designed all there rail networks to have no contact with any roads at all in order to facilitate smooth traffic for both cars and pedestrians at street level and trains passing by.

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Photo of Mark Lind

Your idea is absolutely right!

However, the problem with it— as I understand it— is that the railroads have tremendous legal power, because the laws were written way back in the era when railroads had tremendous economic and political power, and the laws that were written for them back then are still on the books. Otherwise your idea is spot on!

As I understand it, it would be extremely difficult to overturn existing laws that protect the freight companies, otherwise these existing lines are ideally suited to carry passenger traffic instead of freight.

FYI— I have heard that there have been efforts in the past to work out a hybrid use of the existing lines, with commuter rail using them during the day time hours, and freight lines using them only at night....