In less than two months, the new TEXRail line connecting downtown Fort Worth to DFW International Airport will start service.
Five of the eight trains have arrived in Fort Worth and are being tested ahead of the Jan. 5, 2019 roll out.
“We’ve been testing these trains on the lines since the spring and right now we are doing some signal testing. We are actually loading bags of rock – testing the brakes,” Trinity Railway Express (TRE) president and CEO Paul Ballard said. “So, we are going through all the safety protocols right now.”
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Ballard said the excitement is already starting to build.
“We’ve had folks call in saying, ‘When can we get on the train? We’re ready. Will it stop and pick us up?’ [We have to say] ‘No, give us some more time – January,’” Ballard said.
The project is estimated to have more than 8,000 riders every day with stops at nine rail stations. The train will start in downtown Fort Worth, go through north Fort Worth, North Richland Hills, Grapevine and to DFW Airport. The final stop will be Terminal B at the airport.
“I think this is a real game changer for Tarrant County and for North Texas. We’ve been working very hard through the development of the master plan to expand public transit in Tarrant County,” Ballard said. “This is really going to be the backbone.”
“I think it is critically important for so many things. We have been at somewhat of a disadvantage to Dallas particularly in the field of tourism because you have had to come into the airport, take a couple of buses to connect with TRE, before you take a very expensive cab ride,” Ballard said.
For the first few weeks of service, the rides will be free before eventually settling at $2.50. Each day, the first train will leave at 3:30 a.m. arriving before 4:30 a.m. and the last train will leave the airport at 1 a.m.
Ballard said the schedule works well for visitors and those who work at the airport.
“There are thousands of jobs at the airport. We see lots of employees shifting over to this and then folks traveling from the airport,” Ballard said.
The new TEXRail line has already inspired economic growth along its route.
“We call it ‘transit oriented development’ and folks come in and they build housing, they build retail, they build offices and we are seeing that early at all of our stations,” Ballard said.