Screen Shot 2013-08-06 at 2.16.09 PMBy LAURA LOREK
Founder of Silicon Hills News

The $1.8 billion LSTAR passenger train from Georgetown to South San Antonio is on track, but will take about 10 years to complete.
When it’s up and running, the passenger train will make 32 round trips daily with 16 stations on a 118 mile railroad and will cost about $20 one-way, said Joseph Black, rail director with the Lone Star Rail District in San Marcos. The cars will offer wireless Internet connection along with a food and beverage car.
The train would offer an express service, which would take 75 minutes from downtown San Antonio to downtown Austin with stops in New Braunfels and San Marcos.
“The funding will come from private sources and federal and state grants as well,” Black said.
He spoke Tuesday afternoon at Geekdom in downtown San Antonio about the proposed project.
The idea of a passenger rail between Austin and San Antonio has been kicked around for more than 20 years, so what’s different this time? Back in the early 1990s, Southwest Airlines, then a Texas-based regional airline, opposed the idea of high-speed rail. And Union Pacific, which owned the existing railroad, was not in any hurry to vacate its tracks.
Now Union Pacific is on board with the idea and Southwest Airlines is a national carrier and doesn’t oppose the idea either, Black said.
The project involves the Lone Star Rail District, a state agency created in 2003, building a new railroad for Union Pacific commercial rail traffic. The LSTAR will take over the existing commercial tracks and convert them into a passenger rail line. The San Antonio stops would include New Braunfels, Schertz, Loop 1604, San Antonio International Airport, the downtown campus of the University of Texas at San Antonio, Port San Antonio and City South/Texas A&M San Antonio.
The Austin area stops include Kyle/Buda, Slaughter Lane, downtown Austin, 35/Mopac, Braker Lane/Domain, McNeil Junction, Round Rock and Georgetown.
The LSTAR passenger train would run on biodiesel and would alleviate congestion on I-35, one of the busiest and deadliest highways in the state.
“It will definitely be better than what exists today,” Black said.