Cotton Belt Rail Line

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This article is about a planned commuter rail line in northern Texas. For the historical U.S. Class I railroad commonly known as the Cotton Belt, see St. Louis Southwestern Railway. For other uses, see Cotton Belt (disambiguation).
Cotton Belt Rail Line
Type Commuter rail
System Dallas Area Rapid Transit and Fort Worth Transportation Authority
Status Preliminary Engineering
Locale Tarrant, Dallas, Collin, and Rockwall Counties, Texas, USA
Termini Shiloh Road Station
T&P Station
Website DART Cotton Belt Rail Line,
TEX Rail
Owner DART, The T
Line length 67.7 mi (108.95 km)
Track length 67.7 mi (108.95 km)
Track gauge 4 ft 8 12 in (1,435 mm) standard gauge
Route map
T&P Station Car parking
Fort Worth ITC Amtrak logo.svg
North Side
Texas 183.svg Texas State Highway 183
I-35W.svg Interstate 35W
Beach Street
Haltom City/US 377
US 377.svg U.S. Route 377
I-820.svg Interstate 820
N. Richland Hills - Iron Horse
N. Richland Hills - Smithfield
Texas 114.svg Texas State Highway 114
Grapevine - Main Street
DFW Airport-North
DFW Airport Station (Terminal A/B)

The Cotton Belt Rail Line is a planned 67.7-mile (109 km) commuter rail line in Tarrant, Dallas, Collin, and Rockwall Counties in the U.S. state of Texas. It will provide service from Dallas's northeast suburbs to Southwest Fort Worth with a major terminal at the north end of Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport. The project has been broken up into several segments under development by Dallas Area Rapid Transit and the Fort Worth Transportation Authority.

Together, the corridor would connect downtown Fort Worth, Grapevine, and DFW Airport with Carrollton (at a junction with both the Denton County Transportation Authority A-train[1] commuter rail line and DART's Green Line light rail line), Addison, Richardson, and Plano.

The current name for the line comes from a former subsidiary of the Southern Pacific Railroad, the St. Louis Southwestern Railway, commonly known as the Cotton Belt, which previously owned the line. DART purchased the right-of-way in 1990 for future transit use.

A plan to use private funds for construction of both the Dallas County and Tarrant County segments of the Cotton Belt Rail Line was abandoned in 2013. The T has secured initial federal grant funds to begin work on the Tarrant County segment. At this time, no funding is available for the Dallas County segment and no construction start date is planned.

Segment 1: Dallas County[edit]

Planned project route[edit]

The Dallas County segment of the Cotton Belt would run approximately 26 miles (42 km) between Richardson or Plano to DFW International Airport.[2]

This section is being planned by Dallas Area Rapid Transit (DART) and will serve as a crosstown route in northern Dallas County and southern Collin County, connecting the Red Line in Richardson or Plano, the Addison Transit Center, the Green Line in Carrollton (where it will also connect with the Denton County Transportation Authority's northbound A-train[3]), and the Orange Line at DFW North Station (where it will connect to the TEX Rail segment to southwest Tarrant County[4]). [2] It will also pass through a portion of the city of Coppell, a charter member of DART that later pulled out of the system in 1989, though the possibility of rail service may entice Coppell to rejoin.

Planned stations[edit]

Stations identified for this segment:[5]

Project status[edit]

This section of the line is part of DART's 2030 Plan, which had initial hopes of opening sometime near 2013.[6] However, in 2010 DART scrapped much of their 2030 plan, citing deficits and drops in revenue.[7] A proposal to use private funding to construct both the Dallas County and Tarrant County segments was considered, but this plan was abandoned after the Texas Legislature failed to enact legislation necessary to the plan during the 2013 state legislative session.[8]

DART officials have stated that without private funding options, the agency will not be able to build out the Dallas County segment until at least the mid-2030s.[8] However, DART is reviewing the possibility of using bus rapid transit as a less costly alternative for current funding.[9]

Segments 2 & 3: TEX (Tarrant Express) Rail[edit]

Planned project route[edit]

TEX Rail (formerly known as the Southwest-to-Northeast Rail Corridor) is the planned segment in Tarrant County, Texas, United States that will provide service from southwest Fort Worth to DFW International Airport via Grapevine and other Tarrant County communities. It is being planned by the Fort Worth Transportation Authority ("The T") and is scheduled to open in 2018; no color designation has been given for this planned line. The new line is expected to cost $USD330 million, of which 10 percent would be Grapevine's share.[10]

Officials with the T are hoping the new rail line will entice non-T member cities along the line to join the transit agency in its quest to become a regional transit entity. Cities along the route include Colleyville, Haltom City and North Richland Hills. The route also goes through small parts of Hurst and Southlake. Unlike Grapevine, those cities do not have room under the state-mandated 8.25% sales tax cap for the 1/2 cent need to join. The T will not build a station along the line in those cities unless they are a member city first.[11]

Planned stations[edit]

Stations identified for this segment:[12]

A diesel multiple unit (DMU) similar to those planned to be used on TEX Rail.

Planned rolling stock[edit]

The T plans to provide TEX Rail service using self-propelled Diesel Multiple Units capable of carrying up to 450 passengers.[12] The T's request for proposal, issued on May 16, 2014, seeks procurement of DMUs which feature level boarding, onboard toilets, and Wi-Fi connectivity, and are capable of operating at speeds up to 79 mph.[12] The T expects to award a contract for the procurement of an initial 8 DMUs, with an option for up to 24 additional DMUs, in November 2014.[12] In April 2015, Stadler Rail was awarded the contract for eight DMUs.[13]

On June 9, 2015 a ceremony was held at the Fort Worth Intermodal Transportation Center (ITC) to sign a contract for the supply of eight 4-car articulated FLIRT3 DMUs for the Tex Rail commuter line. The contract was signed by the Chairman of the T (Mr Scott Mahaffey), the CEO of the T (Mr Paul Ballard) and the CEO of Stadler Rail (Mr Peter Spuhler). The contract is valued at $US 106.7m, and includes the supply of components for 10 years. The contract also includes an option for an additional 24 DMU's. One element of the contract is that the final assembly of the trains will take place in the US, and a site in Lewisville is being considered as a possible location for the facility.[14][15]

Project status[edit]

Grapevine citizens voted 8,058-2,898 on November 7, 2006 to levy a full cent sales tax, of which three-eights of a cent would authorize Grapevine to contract with The T for rail service and another 1/8 cent for other transit improvements, like a downtown parking garage.[16] This includes an expansion of the commuter rail system to link southwest Fort Worth to the north end of DFW International Airport.

The T's Board of Directors finalized their plans in October 2006 for the southwest-to-northeast expansion. Two commuter routes, a light rail route and a bus rapid transit route were under consideration. The Board's recommendation was a commuter rail line that runs in the southwest part of the city near Altamesa and Dirks road, run by Texas Christian University and the Medical District on its way to the existing T&P Station and Fort Worth Intermodal Transportation Center. At that point it turns northwest toward the Stockyards before turning northeast toward DFW International Airport. Preliminary plans call for nine new stations with eleven total, though that has not been finalized,[17] and could be contingent on other cities along the corridor joining the agency.

A proposal to use private funding to construct both TEX Rail and DART's Dallas County segment was considered, but this plan was abandoned after necessary legislation was not passed in the State Legislature.[8] Following this legislative defeat, The T began pursuing federal grant funds in order to build TEX Rail.[8] On March 5, 2014, it was announced that the TEX Rail project would receive $50 million in federal grant funds from President Barack Obama's 2015 New Starts Funding Budget.[2]

In April 2015, the T approved a contract for pre-construction services, awarded to an Archer Western Contractors/Herzog Rail Services joint venture, as well as approving the final design for the Iron Horse and Smithfield Road stations.[13]

In June 2015, the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) gave approval for the project to advance into the engineering phase that immediately precedes the start of construction. The approval also allow the T to place an order for trains such that they can be built in time for the planned service opening date in 2018.[18]

Segment 4: Downtown Wylie[edit]

Planned project route[edit]

An additional segment of the Cotton Belt line has been labeled for future expansion. Although no planning has occurred, Segment 4 would extend the route from Shiloh Road in Plano to Wylie, with stations in the downtowns of Murphy and Wylie.[19] Neither of these towns are DART member cities.

Planned stations[edit]

Stations identified for this segment:[citation needed]

  • Downtown Murphy
  • Downtown Wylie


  1. ^
  2. ^ a b c "Cotton Belt Corridor Regional Rail Scoping Summary Report" (PDF). Dallas Area Rapid Transit. January 2011. Retrieved 2014-08-13. 
  3. ^
  4. ^
  5. ^ Young, Stephen (August 25, 2014). "The Cotton Belt Rail Line May Still Happen, Despite Objections from Nearby Residents". Dallas Observer. Retrieved 9 May 2015. 
  6. ^
  7. ^ Lindenberger, Michael (April 28, 2010). "Money woes will force DART to cut jobs, rail plans". Dallas Morning News. Retrieved April 12, 2013. 
  8. ^ a b c d Dickson, Gordon (May 29, 2013). "Cotton Belt funding bill dies in Legislature". Fort Worth Star-Telegram. Retrieved April 13, 2014. 
  9. ^ Formby, Brandon (25 August 2014). "DART to consider dedicated bus roads for long-languishing Cotton Belt rail corridor". The Dallas Morning News. Retrieved 9 May 2015. 
  10. ^ [1] Cotton Belt Costs
  11. ^ [2] Cities weigh cost of rail line, Fort Worth Star Telegram
  12. ^ a b c d "TEX Rail Diesel Multiple Unit Train Sets RFP 14-T008" (PDF). The T. 2014-06-30. Retrieved 2014-08-13. 
  13. ^ a b "TEX Rail contracts approved". Trains Magazine. April 28, 2015. Retrieved April 29, 2015. 
  14. ^ "TEX Rail orders Stadler Flirt DMUs". Railway Gazette. 2015-06-11. 
  15. ^ "Stadler Rail wins 100-million-dollar contract in Texas". Stadler Rail. 2015-06-10. 
  16. ^ Grapevine election results
  17. ^ untitled
  18. ^ "TEX Rail receives FTA approval to enter engineering phase". Railway Track & Structures (RTS). Simmons-Boardman Publishing. 2015-06-05. 
  19. ^

External links[edit]