LAREDO, Texas — U.S. Rep. Henry Cuellar is continuing his efforts to get a high-speed rail service between South Texas and Monterrey.
Last week, the Laredo congressman hosted a two-day international meeting with the Federal Railroad Administration, state and federal agencies and their Mexican counterparts to discuss standards and protocols for a rail service from the United States to Mexico.
In the Fiscal Year 2016 Omnibus House Appropriations bill, Cuellar added language for a feasibility study for a passenger rail between San Antonio and Monterrey through Laredo. It reads as follows:
“The Committee understands that standards or protocols for passenger rail between the United States and Mexico do not currently exist. The Committee encourages FRA to work with all relevant state and federal agencies and their Mexican counterparts to study what standards and protocols are needed to facilitate a passenger and freight rail line between the U.S. and Mexico, in Texas, and other international land crossings.”
During the meetings, held January 23 and January 24 at Texas A&M International University, discussions centered on the possibility of a high-speed rail, what safety and infrastructure regulations need to be in place, and current rail standards in U.S. and Mexico.
“How we can harmonize the protocol for more trains and particularly passenger trains between U.S. and México?” Cuellar told Rio Grande Guardian. “We don’t have a train line between both countries, we do have cargo (which is good), but we need to make sure we also look at passenger.”
One project that particularly has stakeholders excited is a proposed high-speed rail project from San Antonio to Monterrey via Laredo.
“The proposed route for the high-speed passenger rail would begin in San Antonio at the VIA Transit Center Station, stop northwest of Laredo at a new railway bridge near the Laredo Colombia Solidarity Bridge (LCSB), and continue on a new rail line approved for construction in the Mexican state of Nuevo Leon with a final destination of Monterrey, Mexico,” explained Cuellar’s office through a press release.
The Texas Department of Transportation already conducted a feasibility study for this tentative new line.
The meeting at TAMIU was the first meeting of its kind and Cuellar believes it was an example of how U.S. leaders are looking to work more closely with their counterparts in Mexico. Representatives from the Federal Rail Administration, the City of Laredo, Webb County, the Texas Department of Transportation, Mexico’s Communications and Transportation Ministry, the Corporation for the Development of the Border Area of Nuevo León (CODEFRONT), Nuevo León Public Transportation Agency, and Economic Development Ministry of the City of Monterrey, were present during the two days of meetings.
Authorities consider a passenger rail as an option to increase tourism and boost development and growth in the participating cities. “This exciting project will benefit our communities,” Cuellar added.
In a story published by Rio Grande Guardian in 2015, Texas Representative Richard Peña Raymond, said the project was going to happen.
“That is an important project. That will happen. We are going to have something from San Antonio south,” Raymond said. According to the same report in 2015, Nuevo León had expressed it had “all the necessary permits in place to build a high-speed line from Monterrey to Nuevo Laredo.”