Integrating high speed rail systems into urban environments : a comprehensive evaluation
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Construction of a high speed rail system comes with an exhaustive list of challenges. Integrating the system into an existing urban environment is a particularly difficult proposition, given the dense developments and infrastructure systems already in place. Locating a station within a city is a delicate balance between a multitude of factors that include cost, station accessibility, required infrastructure and intermodal connectivity. Acquiring the rail alignment requires even more diplomacy. This thesis explores existing urban integration of current high speed rail systems and stations, evaluating prevalent high speed systems around the world to gauge best practices. Several European countries are notable for their direct connections into city center stations and urban transportation systems, providing passengers with quick, direct access to their final destinations. China and Taiwan have adopted a different approach with many cities, locating stations at the urban fringe and providing a base for transit-oriented development. After a review of existing systems around the world and high speed rail proposals in the United States and specifically, Texas, case studies are performed on the cities of Dallas and Houston. Using current and prior proposals by the Texas TGV and Texas Central Railroad, potential station sites in the two Texas cities will be analyzed for their potential for development and connectivity to transit and roadway systems. The selection of an optimal station location will be aided using criteria from the Federal Railroad Administration and from interviews with planning professionals familiar with both metropolitan areas. In Dallas, the South Side site immediately south of the existing Union Station is recommended for future development while in Houston, a station connecting into the Northwest Transit Center is preferred.