Fort Worth Rail Expansion Gets Final Funding Piece

Dallas Fort Worth International Airport (PRNewsFoto/DFW International Airport) 

Our weekly “New Starts” roundup of new and newsworthy transportation projects worldwide.

Feds Agree to Pick Up Half the Tab for Fort Worth-to-DFW Rail Link
According to a news story in the Dallas Morning News, Fort Worth will definitely join its down-the-road neighbor Dallas in having a rail link from its city center to Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport now that the federal government has agreed to pick up almost half of the line’s projected $1 billion cost.

The Federal Transit Administration agreed this month to provide a $499 million grant to the Fort Worth Transportation Authority (The T) to fund construction of the TEX Rail line, which will run nearly 27 miles from the Texas & Pacific railroad station in downtown Fort Worth to a station at DFW’s Terminal B. Including the two terminals, the line will have nine stations when it opens by the end of 2018.

The remainder of the project’s tab is being picked up by state and local governments.

TEX Rail will be a diesel-hauled commuter rail operation like the existing Trinity Railway Express, which is jointly operated by The T and Dallas Area Rapid Transit (DART). DART’s light-rail Orange Line has served DFW since 2014, when a station opened in Terminal A.

The TEX Rail line also forms the western half of a planned peripheral commuter rail route using a former Cotton Belt rail line. The eastern half, which will be operated by DART, has touched off controversy because critics view it as competing for scarce funding with a new subway line to relieve pressure on DART’s surface route through downtown Dallas. DART has opted to pursue both projects, borrowing to build the Cotton Belt line and pursuing federal grants for the subway, but critics argue that the Cotton Belt debt will jeopardize DART’s ability to land the grants.

The T projects the line will carry 9,000 passengers daily when it opens, with ridership rising to 13,700 daily trips by 2035.

French Rail Operators Back Senegal Transit Project
Elsewhere on the rail-to-the-airport front, the International Railway Journal reports that the French National Railways (SNCF) and the Paris Transport Authority (RATP) have signed an agreement to support Senegal’s effort to build a 57-km (35.4-mile) standard gauge regional express line connecting the Senegalese capital of Dakar with Blaise Diagne International Airport near Diass.

French President Francois Hollande announced the agreement during a state visit to Senegal last week.

The two companies, which are already involved in the line’s construction through their jointly owned consultancy Systra, will also be involved in the operation and maintenance of the line to ensure it follows international best practices. Ground was broken for the project on Dec. 14.

The companies plan to open an office in Dakar in 2017 to manage their operations in Senegal. French contractor Eiffrage is overseeing construction of the first, 36-km (22.4-mile) section of the line, which will cost €373.5 million ($389.96 million U.S.) and take 26 months to complete.

Algerian Rail Line Gets First Tram
The first of 23 Citadis trams that will run on a new 10-km (6.2-mile) tram line in the Algerian provincial capital of Ouargla arrived in the city on Dec. 20, the International Railway Journal reports.

The trams are being built by Cital, a joint venture of Ferrovial, Enterprise Metro d’Alger and Alstom, according to a report in the Railly News. Saad Agoudjil, Wali of the Wilaya of Ouargla, was present to receive the tram upon its arrival at the depot.

The tram line will connect the old city of El Ksar with the new city of Hai Nasr via the center of Ouargla. The 16-station line will cost 39.1 billion dinars ($351 million U.S.) to build and is slated to open by the end of 2017.

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Next City contributor Sandy Smith is the home and real estate editor at Philadelphia magazine. Over the years, his work has appeared in Hidden City Philadelphia, the Philadelphia Inquirer and other local and regional publications. His interest in cities stretches back to his youth in Kansas City, and his career in journalism and media relations extends back that far as well.

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