GALVESTON — Any development of a commuter train connecting Galveston to Houston is still a ways down the track, according to the city’s transportation consultant.

John Carrara, the vice president of the Goodman Corporation, was scheduled to update the city’s Intermodal Transportation Committee about the future of rails on Wednesday, and by the way the item was put on the agenda, was not bearing optimistic news.

Item 1G on the Wednesday’s agenda for the Intermodal Transportation Committee was rather specifically titled “Reasons Light Rail from Galveston to Houston is not possible in the near future.”

Speaking before the meeting, Carrarra confirmed that he would deliver the disappointing, if not particularly surprising news, said that there were three major impediments to light rail projects that must be overcome for anything to happen in the future.

First, the sheer cost of the project, at an estimated $800 million, is too much for communities along the Houston-Galveston corridor to handle, even with outstanding financial cooperation between communities, Carrara said.

Secondly, Carrrara said that no regional group has stepped up to oversee such the project, which would be necessary given the number of communities a train have to pass through in order to connect the Space City with the island.

Finally, Carrara said that any commuter rail project must cooperate with Union-Pacific, which controls a majority of the existing rail lines between the two cites.

Carrara said that any realistic plans for a commuter rail line are at least five years away.

“We’re developing an interim plan that would at least provide commuter service in the form of buses,” Carrara said. That plan could include adding a bus route to Houston from the Victory Lakes park-and-ride in League City. Last year, Galveston began operating a bus route between from the island to Victory Lakes.

Carrara said the Goodman Corporation conducted a light rail feasibility study two years ago, exploring the possibility of creating a commuter train between Galveston and Houston. Carrara said the final version of the report should be released in March.

(4) comments

Kevin Lang

I thought the plan to share the UP tracks was a Heavy Rail project using locomotives and passenger cars, similar to Amtrak, but without the sleeper capability.

Anyway, if the horizon could be as close as 5 years, that qualifies, in government-speak, as soon. I think the nearest horizon would have to be more than 10 years out to qualify as "not anytime soon".

Penelope Mcfadin

Those just sound like excuses to me. The GHH track between Houston and Galveston is still under it's old 1850s Passenger Rail charter from what I've read so Union Pacific may not have a choice. As for the price tag, $800M is nothing compared to a lot of other less useful projects many will cheerfully fund like sports stadiums etc. And the "No one stepping up" excuse is just that, an excuse. If they wanted to make it happen, it would happen. They are dragging their feet.

Kevin Lang

I wonder if this would be subject to the same hoop-jumping that Sen. Whitmire convoluted in order to thwart MetroRail expansion? If so, then I'd guess that this would pretty much be DOA in Austin if the state has to authorize anything.

Gary Miller

Why would the Island want an easier way tp get off the Island?

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