Glaeser on High Speed Rail in Texas

Ed Glaeser concludes his four-part series on the long-mooted high-speed rail link between Houston and Dallas, looking at the effects such a link might have on centralization versus sprawl:

Over the last three weeks, I have tried to put together figures for a hypothetical high-speed rail line between Dallas and Houston. A link between Dallas and Houston is not one of the designated corridors, but a link between the country’s fourth and sixth largest metropolitan areas is not obviously less sensible than many of the proposed links.


These numbers suggest that costs will exceed benefits each year by $524 million if the rail line has 1.5 million customers, and by $401 million if the region’s rail demand has a huge rate of growth and attracts three million riders.

Glaeser concludes:

Despite the lack of any positive evidence linking centralization to high-speed rail, I certainly accept that there is a great deal of uncertainty. To give rail the benefit of the doubt, I’ll assume that high-speed rail will cause 100,000 households to switch from suburb to city in both Dallas and Houston. This change would create extra, annual environmental benefits of $29.7 million. These benefits would be real, but they would still do little to offset the $524 million or $401 million net annual loss discussed above.

Randall O’Toole weighs in on Glaeser’s series.

While a rail link between Houston and Dallas has been discussed for years, it was not included in the administration’s proposal for high-speed rail corridors, which would look like this: