The Trinity Railway Express (Dallas-Fort Worth, Texas)
Little known outside of the Dallas - Fort Worth Metroplex, the Trinity Railway Express ("TRE") is a quickly growing,
efficient, and popular commuter rail system between the cities of Dallas and Fort Worth.
Kalmbach's Trains magazine recently called it the "passenger rail success story of 2002".
So far, the TRE story has been marked by continued expansion combined with grasping opportunities.
This has led to what is
probably a unique system, running efficient refurbished stock from the 1950s alongside
more powerful modern EMD passenger locomotives.
And although the main route between Dallas and Fort Worth has been completed, double tracking is in progress with a
new crossing over the Trinity River, and plans exist for further expansion
in the Fort Worth area, and a possible rail link to DFW Airport.
Click for full size map (810KB)
The route of the Trinity Railway Express runs from Dallas Union Station through to Fort Worth's
old T&P station. A number of extension proposals are under consideration, although current
expansion work is in the form of double-tracking the many single-track sections of the route.
Starting from Dallas:
Dallas Union Station
Union Station is the Dallas terminus of the TRE, and is probably its busiest station. As well as being located in
Downtown Dallas, it is an interchange for the DART Light Rail system and Amtrak.
Victory Station (American Airlines Center)
Built specially for the American Airlines Center, trains stop here for scheduled events.
In the near future, this station will also be served with DART light rail running from the West End and Union Stations.
This station serves the Medical District and Market Center.
South Irving Transit Center
South Irving is a major interchange with DART buses, and is located in the Downtown Irving.
South Irving also marks the location of a junction with the BNSF, and the Herzog maintenance yard.
With the large numbers of small industrial spurs and storage sidings in the area, you will often see
BNSF switching movements in the vicinity of here.
This serves the western end of the surprisingly wide city of Irving.
Centreport / DFW Airport
Centreport marks the fare zone boundary between the Fort Worth and Dallas sides of the TRE. A shuttle bus connects
Centreport to DFW International Airport. Proposals exist for a rail extension all the way to the airport.
Hurst / Bell
Fort Worth Intermodal Transit Center (ITC) Station
Fort Worth ITC is a major interchange between the TRE, Amtrak, and buses operated by
The T (Fort Worth Transit Authority).
The Fort Worth Convention Center is a short walk away, as is the old Santa Fe station which has now been converted
into small shops and restaurants.
With regular Union Pacific and BNSF freight trains coming through the junction near the ITC, this is a popular
location for railfans.
Fort Worth Texas & Pacific (T&P) Station
The old T&P station is the current Fort Worth terminus of the TRE.
As with the ITC, this is a busy location for rail-fans.
The Trinity Railway Express has its genesis back in the mid-1980s, when the assets of the bankrupt Rock Island
railroad were being sold off. The cities of Dallas and Fort Worth combined their resources to buy the
34 miles of Rock Island main line between their cities for $34 million, with the long term goal of starting a
commuter service. Predicted population growth and limited highway capacity, made this transit corridor potentially very
The TRE project remained a low priority project for the future until 1994, when the cities passed the project to
their transit authorities, Dallas Area Rapid Transit (DART) and the Fort Worth Transportation Authority (The T), with
instructions to get things started.
Just as the first segment of the TRE was getting started, the owner of the Dallas Cowboys (Jerry Jones) attempted
to halt the TRE. Jerry Jones tried to get the City of Irving to pay for improvements to the Texas Stadium in 1996, but
thought his chances were unlikely unless Irving pulled out of DART and freed its transit sales tax to be used by the
Dallas Cowboys. This was some admittedly weird logic: a transit headache (the Texas Stadium) trying to grab the
transit taxes which might have helped to alleviate some of the road congestion,
but yes he tried it. Jerry Jones managed to get his stadium tax on the ballot, but was voted
down with 57% of Irving voters voting for the Trinity Railway Express to go ahead instead.
After three years of planning, the first services finally started in February of 1997
from Dallas Union Station to the South Irving Transit Center. This initial service used equipment rented from Amtrak and
the Connecticut Department of Transport for the first few months, whilst the Budd RDCs were being refurbished.
The TRE quickly became a success, which kept on growing as the route extended towards Fort Worth.
The second leg to Richland Hills was opened at the end of 2000,
and the first F59phi hauled Bi-Level trains were purchased to handle the growing traffic.
Traffic saw large leaps in 2001 due to the opening of the American Airlines Center in July (with a dedicated TRE
station and services starting a few months later), and the opening of the third leg to the
Fort Worth ITC and T&P stations.
Today, the TRE is seen as a great passenger train success story. Many people prefer it to get in to the cities of
Fort Worth and Dallas, and the DART Light Rail interchange at Union Station allows connections to services throughout
the Dallas area.
The TRE is also set to grow. A number of the single track sections are being converted to double track, a new
crossing is being built over the Trinity between South Irving and Medical-Market, and plans exist for future extensions
on the Fort Worth area.
The Trinity Railway Express operates two main kinds of trains. Low traffic trains are usually handled by
refurbished Budd Rail Diesel Cars (RDCs), whilst busier trains are comprised of Bombardier Bi-level cars operated as
push-pull sets with motive power provided by either an EMD F59ph or an EMD F59phi.
Budd Rail Diesel Cars (RDCs)
Budd constructed its Rail Diesel Cars (RDCs) in the 1950s for relatively low traffic passenger routes, and they are
credited with saving many of the smaller rural and inter-urban passenger services. Most are now out of service, but the
TRE has thirteen RDCs which were purchased from the VIA Rail System in Canada. These have been nicely refurbished by AMF
Transport. The refurbished cars are equipped with high-back upholstered seats; non-skid rubber flooring; overhead
luggage racks; full air condition, heating, and ventilation; as well as wheelchair access and space for four wheelchairs
per RDC car.
|Vehicle Type:|| Dual-cab, self-propelled rail vehicle/car |
|Capacity:||88/96 seated passengers|
| Average speed: ||45mph|
Growing traffic led to the TRE purchasing four F59ph locomotives in 2000, to haul Bombardier Bi-level cars.
The F59ph was originally designed by EMD and Ontario's GO Transit agency. These incorporated a CN-style
comfort cab, 12-cylinder 3000hp engine, and an independent HEP engine-generator to power the passenger cars.
Despite reluctance from EMD, these quickly became a big success with GO and were quickly adopted by Metrolink
in Los Angeles and other operators. Production of the original F59ph stopped in 1994 with the introduction
of the streamlined "California style" F59phi variant.
|Manufacturer:||EMD (General Motors)|
|Vehicle Type:|| Diesel-Electric Locomotive |
|Top speed:||about 63mph|
| Traction Motors: ||D87B|
In addition to the F59ph locomotives, the TRE has purchased two of the "California style" variant, the F59phi.
Due to the sleeker, more modern look of these locomotives, they tend to be used on all modern TRE publicity material,
rather than the more numerous Budd RDCs and F59ph locomotives.
The "California style" F59phi variant of the original F59 was created in 1994 for the California DoT's
"Amtrak California" services. The diesel-electric systems were slightly updated, but the most significant change
was the streamlined
and isolated cab with fibreglass nose. The carbody was extended down with side skirts over the fuel tanks; and the roof profile was
amended to blend with bi-level "California cars" specially designed for this service.
Although many operators including the TRE did not choose the "California cars", the F59phi became a great success with
such diverse operators as the Seattle's Sound Transit "Sounder", Vancouver BC's Translink, and the North Carolina
Dept. of Transportation.
|Manufacturer:||EMD (General Motors)|
|Vehicle Type:|| Diesel-Electric Locomotive |
|Production:||1994 - current|
|Top speed:||about 63mph|
| Traction Motors: ||D87BTR|
The F59ph and F59phi diesel-electric locomotives haul Bombardier Bi-level passenger cars.
These are operated as push-pull sets, with the locomotive situated on the Fort Worth side of each train.
The train is controlled from the locomotive cab for services towards Fort Worth, and from special
Bombardier cab cars for services towards Dallas. The cab car is always positioned at the rear (Dallas end) of the
train and has a cab and controls for controlling the "pushing" locomotive. It is also equipped with the correct
lights and horns.
The TRE's regular passenger cars were refurbished by Amtrak at Beech Grove, IN in 2000. The cab cars were purchased
new directly from Bombardier.
| Vehicle Type: || Bi-Level Passenger Coach || Bi-Level Cab Car |
|Height:||15ft 11in||15ft 11in|
|Width:||9ft 10in||9ft 10in|
|Length:||84ft 4in||84ft 4in|
Both the passenger cars and the control cabs have full heating, air conditioning, and ventilation. They also have
wheelchair access, workstation tables, bicycle racks, and luggage racks. The cab cars are also fitted with restrooms
which are wheelchair accessible.
Originally, the TRE contracted with both the Union Pacific (UP) and the Burlington Northern Santa Fe (BNSF) for
maintenance and centralised traffic control. Herzog Transportation has since taken over these duties, although both
the UP and the BNSF operate freight trains over parts of the TRE-owned line.
Herzog own two locomotives for maintenance operations, and these are kept at the TRE Rock Island Yard in
west Irving. Maintenance rolling stock such as ballast gondolas and track tampers are stored at the South
Irving TRE station, and are usually visible from the public platform.
Current construction is focused on the line between South Irving and Medical-Market stations, where double-tracking
and construction of a new crossing over the Trinity River are in progress.
Further maintenance information to be added as I find it. Can you help?
Athearn have recently produced HO and N scale models of both the F59phi and
Bombardier bi-level cars. These are available in a variety of liveries, including the TRE "Lone Star" livery.
However in 2004 TRE prohibited Athearn from selling any further TRE-liveried rolling stock, after a disagreement over
licensing. The exact nature of the disagreement is unclear and muddied by conflicting rumours. A lawyer for DART has
been reported as saying that other model manufacturers are interested in licensing the TRE livery.
I have a set of the N scale models, and they have already proven to be popular at local train shows.
Generally these are good models, and the Bombardier cars particularly show some excellent printing.
My F59phi runs well but can be a bit noisy. This is not a problem in an exhibition hall, but is very noticeable in
the quiet of your house. I have heard some reports of less-than-smooth running. As ever, it is a good idea to get the
dealer to test run the locomotive before you purchase it.
The locomotive has working headlights for both the front and the rear. Unfortunately, none of the rear lights work,
the ditch lights do not flash, and none of the lights on the Bombardier cab car work. This latter absence is a little
odd, considering that the headlight on the rear of the F59phi works - even though you would very rarely see it on
the prototype! I hope to fix this problem with the lights using the products of
Richmond Controls, and will report any progress that I make.
I am not aware of any models of the F59ph in any scale. It should be possible to kit-bash
an F59ph using a chassis from an Athearn F59phi and using body shell components from other modern EMD diesels.
Kato sell N scale models of the Budd RDCs. This model has received some great
reviews, but Kato are yet to produce an RDC with either of the TRE liveries that have been used on the RDCs.
As the TRE is one of the few organisations which still operates Budd RDCs, there is a good change that Kato may eventually
produce a model of the Budd RDC with the newer TRE "Lone Star" livery.
The following resources were used in the writing of this page, and are recommended for people looking for further
Acknowledgements are in brackets at the end of each picture caption.
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