Passenger Train May Blow its Whistle Through Lubbock - KCBD NewsChannel 11 Lubbock

10/25/03

Passenger Train May Blow its Whistle Through Lubbock

The phrase "all aboard" may be in Lubbock's future. Within the next decade, a major passenger train route may be heading our way, hoping to add at least one more mode of transportation to our area.

But, it's not time to say all aboard just yet. Right now, the so called "Caprock Xpress" is still in its planning phase. It's a train route that would carry passengers from Fort Worth through Lubbock, and then on to Amarillo and Denver. It's a project stemming from one woman's dream and it may someday become a Lubbock reality.

It's a sound we hear from trains carrying cargo, but within the next decade we may hear a whistle that will be followed by the sound of precious cargo boarding a passenger train.

"It's great for our economy. I mean, just think, football games, basketball games, and all the other venues created in Lubbock," says Sue Castles, who's behind the project.

West Texas said goodbye to train travel in the 1960's. But now, Castles is trying to bring it back for everyone and her husband, who's afraid of flying.

"The rest of Texas has passenger rails and we do not," says Castles.

If built, the Caprock Xpress will run from Fort Worth through Lubbock to Amarillo and on to Denver. On Saturday, officials with Amtrak came from Dallas to survey the need for train service here in Lubbock.

For the metroplex, Richard Phelps with Amtrak says train service is instrumental in boosting their economy.

"If you take Dallas, you have Amtrak, the Trinity Rail Express. You have buses, and when you have the intermodel concept, it's just done tremendous growth for the Fort Worth area in particular," says Phelps.

Phelps says before the Caprock Xpress blows its whistle through Lubbock, research must be done on whether train travel is wanted or needed here. Amtrak is proposing a trial run in the future from Lubbock to Amarillo to ensure the system would have adequate passenger support.

"If it's planned right and you work with the states and the communities, you can develop something that has a value and the public will use it," says Phelps.

If built, Phelps says train transportation will benefit your pocketbook as well as our environment.

"When you look at the cost of gasoline and you look at the lanes of freeways that don't have to be built because you're running trains that carry more people far more efficiently. You look at the air quality that you're going to improve by using trains. It's a quality of life issue," says Phelps.

Officials with the Texas Association of Rail Passengers hope the dream of the Caprock Xpress will become a reality within the next 10 years. They say the train tracks are in place, but need to be upgraded. They are relying on federal funding to get the Caprock Xpress up and running.

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