TEXRail Unveils New Commuter Train in Fort Worth

May 23,2018


Dallas Innovates article by Nicholas Sakelaris 

At first glance, the new TEXRail trains look like something out of a science fiction film.

There’s no big locomotive chugging black smoke into the air. The FLIRT 3 (Fast Light Innovative Regional Train) glides with almost no noise down the track. But it’s not electric like the Dallas Area Rapid Transit.

“It’s the cleanest burning diesel you can buy today.”

Bob Baulsir

Instead, the train that will be carrying passengers from downtown Fort Worth to Dallas Fort Worth International Airport starting on New Year’s Eve has its diesel engine in the center of the train. Passengers can actually pass through that area via a corridor in the center of the train and not even know it.

“It’s the cleanest burning diesel you can buy today,” said Bob Baulsir, senior vice president of Trinity Metro, the transit authority in Fort Worth. “But we can operate on the same tracks as freight trains.”

TEXRail supporters got their first look at the state-of-the-art train Tuesday at the grand opening celebration for the 53,000-square-foot Equipment Maintenance Facility in Fort Worth. After a ceremonial ribbon cutting, the door rolled up, the train’s lights turned on, and the engineer rang the bell as it exited the facility.

The 27-mile commuter line will carry an estimated 8,000 riders per day when it goes into service on Dec. 31.

“Innovation comes in all different phases. Whether it’s shifting bus lines, additional rail, or travel on demand.”

Betsy Price

TEXRail will be the first to operate the FLIRT 3’s DMUs (diesel multiple units) in the U.S. The trains were built by Switzerland-based Stadler with the interior finish out being completed by the company’s U.S. subsidiary in Utah.

Fort Worth Mayor Betsy Price talked about the excitement of finally having a commuter rail to DFW Airport for the west side of the region.

“It will give you the opportunity to work on the train, to have a quiet time, and will ultimately help us with our traffic mitigation issues,” Price said. “It will just add that ability for us to attract more business, the TOD [transit-oriented development], and also more tourists. Innovation comes in all different phases. Whether it’s shifting bus lines, additional rail, or travel on demand. Today’s world is rapidly changing. This is just the beginning.”

A CLOSER LOOK AT THE TRAIN’S TECH

The unique placement of the diesel engines is just the beginning for TEXRail’s innovation. The entire body of the train is made of aluminum, making it lighter and more energy efficient.

The boarding for the train will be level with the platforms at every entrance. Once inside, passengers can choose to be in the designated quiet car, where relaxing and working are encouraged.

The entire body of the train is made of aluminum, making it lighter and more energy efficient.

Baulsir said they took what was first class and made it a quiet amenity. Every seat has a tray on the seat in front of it, much like airplanes do. There also are chargers at every seat. The ski racks that the Swiss typically put on its trains were replaced with bike and luggage racks.

Trinity Metro, previously known as the Fort Worth Transit Authority, or The T, will have eight such trains with six operating each day and two held in reserve.

TEXRail will run from 5 a.m. to 1 a.m. 365 days a year. Each train has 229 seats and room for about 250 standing passengers for a total capacity of 488.

The maintenance facility also is state-of-the-art with the ability to house two TEXRail trains inside for repairs and other work. The railroad tracks are hollow underneath, allowing workers to walk under the train and make repairs.

A third lane has a train wash, similar to a drive-thru car wash, but on a much larger scale. All the water from the facility is cleaned and recycled. Outside, the trains can top off their diesel tanks and other fluids.

WHERE IT’S GOING

TEXRail will have nine stops:

  • The Fort Worth T&P Station*
  • Fort Worth ITC Station*
  • North Side Station
  • Mercantile Center Station
  • North Richland Hills/Iron Horse Station
  • North Richland Hills/Smithfield Station
  • Grapevine/Main Street Station
  • DFW Airport North Station
  • DFW Airport Terminal B Station

*Existing stations that serve the Trinity Railway Express in downtown Fort Worth.

From DFW Airport Terminal B Station, riders could go to any terminal or walk over to DART’s Terminal A Station, where they can continue to DART’s system.

In the future, the DFW Airport North Station could be a transfer point for the Cottonbelt extension that will go northeast into Addison, Richardson, and Plano.