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The Trinity Railway Express makes its debut as the first rail link between Fort Worth and downtown Dallas since 1934

Fort Worth Star-Telegram (TX)

December 1, 2001

Section: Metro;Fort Worth & Region

Edition: FINAL

Page: 1

At 1:18 p.m. Friday, transportation in the Metroplex rolled toward the future.

Blaring horns and clanging bells marked the inaugural send-off of the Trinity Railway Express, as the train pulled out of downtown's Texas & Pacific Station toward Richland Hills, Hurst, DFW Airport, Irving and Dallas.

An estimated 700 elected officials, dignitaries and rail regulars took the inaugural trip from the Texas & Pacific station to the CentrePort/DFW Airport.

This is the first time commuter rail has connected passengers in the heart of Fort Worth to the heart of Dallas since the old Crimson Limited of Texas Electric Railway made its last run in 1934.

"We are starting a service that ended nearly 70 years ago," said Robert Pope, chairman of the Dallas Area Rapid Transit board of directors. "It has taken a long time to get to this point. What an exciting return.

"It's a great connection for the entire region," he said. "Our challenge now is to get the rest of the region, cities that aren't participating now, on board."

Many corporate executives, whose companies draw employees from across the Metroplex, were invited to the preview.

"It's a great new addition to the region and will help both our employees and passengers trying to get to the airport," said Jeff Fegan, chief executive officer of Dallas/Fort Worth Airport. The airport is involved in a feasibility study that could create a spur from the Trinity Railway Express directly to the airport's terminals.

At the CentrePort/DFW Airport station, two trains stopped nose-to-nose on the track as board members joined Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison, R-Texas, in driving "golden spikes" into the track, echoing the 1869 ceremony that joined the American West and the East.

"The Trinity Railway Express literally brings our cities together," Hutchison said. "I'm so proud today that we are finishing the project," she said, referring to an appropriation she sponsored early in her Senate career that brought the first $5 million in federal funding to the rail.

General service kicks off at 5:35 a.m. Monday, but Pope - along with hundreds of local and area officials - gathered Friday to celebrate the launching of TRE service from downtown Fort Worth.

They praised community teamwork that finally led to the 34-mile stretch of commuter rail.

"It's hard to believe it was just 67 years ago," said state Rep. Bill Carter, R-Fort Worth. "Now we are back on track."

The Trinity Railway Express, an operation of the Fort Worth Transportation Authority and DART, has run trains through three Dallas County stations since 1996 and three Tarrant County stations since September 2000.

On Monday, trains will keep rolling until they reach stations in downtown Fort Worth - either the T&P Station or the Intermodal Transportation Center.

"We are thrilled to complete this portion of the TRE," said Dave Ragan, chairman of the transportation authority, known as the T. "Workers from throughout Tarrant County now have options for an easier commute by rail ... to other parts of the Metroplex."

Area officials have worked since the early 1980s to create and complete the TRE, a $245 million joint project. The cost of the Tarrant County portion of the line is $184 million, 65 percent of which came from federal sources.

Officials say the trains can improve regional mobility and air quality.

They believe that they can build on a solid, 6,000-passenger weekday ridership between Dallas and Richland Hills and generate 11,000 weekday riders by 2010.

"The Trinity Railway Express is an impressive model of regional cooperation between neighboring communities," Mayor Kenneth Barr said. "Our collective efforts will increase mobility, decrease traffic congestion and improve air quality - all attractive elements to promote positive economic development."

Area commuters will have TRE service six days a week beginning Monday. Saturday trains will leave and arrive about every other hour. The TRE does not run on Sundays.

To celebrate the first official day, Fort Worth rail and bus service will be free Monday.

"This is important for Fort Worth and the region," City Manager Gary Jackson said. "It's going to tie us all together.

"It will bring commerce into the community, reduce air pollution and address congestion issues," he said. "It's a great day for Fort Worth and a great day for the region."

Staff writer Bryon Okada contributed to this report.

Anna M. Tinsley, (817) 390-7610 [email protected]


* The fare to ride the Trinity Railway Express is $4 for a round trip between Tarrant and Dallas county stations, or $2 within one county. D/FW Airport is considered part of Tarrant County.

* One-way tickets cost $1 per county. Monthly passes, which include light rail and bus service, are available.

* For more information, call (877) 657-0146, or go to www.the-T.com, www.trinityrailwayexpress.org or www.DART.org.


Copyright 2001 Star-Telegram, Inc.

Ft. Worth Star-Telegram
Anna M. Tinsley