January 18, 2014
From Fox News Latino:
U.S. and Mexican officials held a high level meeting on Thursday to discuss a plan to build the first-ever high speed passenger railroad line connecting both countries by 2018.
The proposed high-speed train would take passengers from San Antonio, Texas, to Monterrey, Mexico through the U.S. border city of Laredo in less than two hours.
San Antonio and Monterrey are about 300 miles apart, roughly 5 hours’ driving distance. Under the proposed plan, passengers would be able to travel quickly between both nations thanks to pre-clearance immigration and customs checks, so the train wouldn’t have to stop at the border.
U.S. Congressman Henry Cuellar, a Texas Democrat, and Texas Department of Transportation Commissioner Jeff Austin, as well as Mexican officials, presented the plan to U.S. Secretary of Transportation Anthony Foxx on Thursday in Washington D.C..
“Secretary Foxx and his team are interested,” Cuellar said. “A high-speed rail between San Antonio and Monterrey through Laredo would revolutionize trade and travel between the United States and Mexico.”
The project is planned as a joint effort by both nations. But the timeline remains somewhat murky. Both countries are optimistic the project will get done, but the effort seems to be taking a more immediate priority south of the border.
Mexican officials told Fox News Latino they have already received the go-ahead and funding is lined up from the federal government and the state of Nuevo Leon. Mexico estimates its share of the cost for the project will be around $1.5 billion, with construction slated to begin as early the first half of 2015 and completed by 2018.
Both Rep. Cuellar and Mexican officials expect the project to be mostly privately funded.
Marco Antonio Gonzalez Valdez, a congressman from Nuevo León, said new railway reforms proposed by President Enrique Pena Nieto are expected to pass Congress in the coming months and will open Mexico’s railroad industry to private investment.
But while Mexico is primed and ready to build, the U.S. is still in a study phase of the project.
The idea for the international railway sprung from an initial Texas Department of Transportation 850-mile study started in September of 2012, scheduled to be completed in December 2014. The study initially looked into building a high-speed rail between Oklahoma City and South Texas but has been expanded to include a separate extension of the railway from San Antonio to Monterrey Mexico.