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Texas Turmoil - The Texas TGV & Southwest Airlines

Meeting Details:

Next meeting: Mar 23rd: 8:00pm, Zoom:



  • Headlines

  • High Speed Rail Alliance Presentation

  • Engineering Expo Plan

  • Madison Station RFP


Faster Headlines

Wheels on Steel:

The New York Times

Railway Age

The Texan

The Washington Times

Texas Standard

Texas Tribune

City of Madison Mayor's Blog

In the Tube:


Up in the Air:

Simple Flying

Business Traveler


Central Japan Railways Internship

This year's internship is scheduled from July 11th thru July 29th. The plan is for 2-3 UW-Madison students to be joined by 3-5 students from other universities (Texas A&M & University of Maryland). The window for applying is until March 25th.

The great thing about this internship is most meetings will be in the evening. So it is a great opportunity to work during the to do an internship experience.

For more details:

(UW Netid login required)


How "LUV" killed the Texas TGV

In the 1990s, Texas was ready to start building. It was a similar time as now, where the federal government was making money available to states for improving Amtrak and trying to spur the development of high speed rail in the US. As a response, Texas created the High Speed Rail Commission and gave a franchise to a consortium called Texas TGV.

Texas TGV was composed of partners from the US, Canada, and France; and beat out a competitive bid led by the Germans. The system was to be a T-bone connecting the Texas Triangle of San Antonio, Dallas, and Houston. It looked like the plan was a go, except there was Southwest Airlines (ticket symbol “LUV”).

In 1991 Southwest was a very different airline than it is today. As can be seen in the 1991 route map, Southwest was still primarily a short-haul airline based in…well, the southwestern United States. As a result, Southwest made their money in the same length of markets where the high speed rail was just proving to be a formidable competitor. To make this worse the Texas Triangle of Houston – Dallas – San Antonio is the exact same place where back in the early1970s a little startup airline with only 3 737s and a lot of LUV started service by trying to get people out of their cars and into airplanes. So the Texas TGV was hitting right at Southwest’s heart.

Southwest led a lawsuit against the building of the Texas TGV claiming that it was illegal for the state to provide funding (which the state was not), that it was illegal for Texas TGV to use tax-exempt bonds (it wasn’t), and the creation of the Texas High Speed Rail Commission was illegal (again it wasn’t). So while Southwest did not have a sound legal argument, where Southwest Airlines won the case was in time. The Texas TGV simply ran out of time and money.

The irony is that a few years later in 2008 the two other major airlines based in Texas; American Airlines and Continental Airlines would join into the Texas High Speed Rail Corporation plan; with the rumored intention of investing in that project. After all, these airlines wanted to focus on their more profitable, long-range routes; and would benefit from the reduced congestion at Texas major airports.

Meanwhile, today Southwest has been given the opportunity to stop the Texas Central Railway project. Granted they aren’t supporting the project, but they aren’t attacking the project. Essentially they are staying out of the way. This makes sense considering Southwest airlines is now the 4th largest airline in the US with operations that now span from Maine to Honolulu. Essentially Southwest is now a long-distance carrier, just the American and Continental once were. If high speed rail does reduce congestion at the major airports Southwest could perhaps even support the building of high speed rail (someday). Times have changed.


Madison RFP for a new Amtrak Station

By Alex Kofman

On Friday, March 4th, the City of Madison released an RFP on locating the station

Amtrak service in Wisconsin is alive and well in Milwaukee, with seven daily Hiawatha Service trains to and from Chicago Union Station. In the rest of the state, the Empire Builder long-distance train runs once a day in each direction between Milwaukee and La Crosse, serving Columbus, Portage, Wisconsin Dells, and Tomah. Madison, 30 miles to the south of Columbus, is skipped. In Amtrak and the federal government’s long-range planning maps, including the FRA Midwest Regional Rail Plan and Amtrak Connects US 2035, extending Amtrak service to Madison is a priority.

While the group lacks the resources (IE experience) in putting together a full report, the group has put together a report on options for a new Amtrak alignment through Madison are proposed, including as a western terminus or through the station. Over the next few weeks, we will be posting these options here.


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