So the route named in the article is the existing line used by BNSF, UP, DGNO, TRE and Amtrak. The reason we don't have a viable plan for high speed rail in 2016 is in large part due to lack of imagination. There are too many improvements needed to make the former B-RI high speed, including grade separation and broader curves. To make it truly high speed, you need dedicated equipment operating on a dedicated rail. Where in the existing right-of-way does this fit?
Is the goal to squeeze out the other operators? HSR is only going to work in concert with other transit options, especially those that make the last mile connections that HSR can't make. Squeezing out TRE and Amtrak eliminates those options for commuters and intercity travelers. To be fair, the Dallas-Fort Worth to Austin and San Antonio portion of the proposed HSR is intended to do that, but Amtrak goes beyond Dallas and San Antonio.
Let's not forget about the other carriers using this route. DGNO does a lot of work in this area and UP serves an ethanol depot. BNSF operates a local that switches customers on the line and moves transfer traffic to and from the DGNO, along with Fort Worth to Tulsa and Fort Worth to Houston trains. Aside from the expense of relocating the customer facilities there is the problem of rerouting the freight traffic.
Arlington is supposed to be in the mix, right? How exactly do you get from Centreport to the entertainment district of Arlington on high speed rail? To do so at all excludes the high speed in HSR. Any connection via HSR has to be a spur track, otherwise the ROW acquisition cost would be astronomical. There is a better, cheaper way.
I look at a map of the metrosprawl and I see a line straight as an arrow between Dallas and Fort Worth and it ain't the B-RI. I-30 is straight, it's generally flat, it is literally and figuratively the dash between Dallas and Fort Worth, and it passes through the entertainment district in Arlington.
Any HSR right-of-way built in a populated area must be grade separated from pedestrians and vehicles, whether underground or overhead. Since this a given it's far beyond time to stop trying to find ways to repurpose railroads that pass through industrial centers without homes, entertainment destinations or easily accessible transportation options like highway networks. It's time to build new infrastructure using existing highway right-of-way where such a project is not only practical and cost effective, but also visually appealing/compelling to the driver stuck in traffic below. When I lived in Atlanta, every time I was stuck on I-75 and MARTA passed by it finally made enough of an impression I started using it. Chicago, same thing: stuck on the highway watching trains glide by.
Build this over or next to or between the highway lanes and people will be compelled to use it. Imagine cruising along at 70 mph when suddenly a train flies by at 200mph. You don't have to do the math to realize how much quicker and easier your trip would be. It's right there in front of you. Well, it was. It's now way in front of you. The Arlington station straddling the highway would fit right in with the Collins and Center Street gateway bridges. Convenient to walk, bike, pedicab, bus or taxi to the Ballpark, Six Flags or Jerryworld.
East of Loop 12 and west of 820 it gets a little more complicated. Maybe the route works its way toward the Trinity River and alongside the B-RI alignment for that last mile into Fort Worth or along the T&P back into Dallas. It's a problem that can be solved with imagination and engineering. I'd love to see both making much bigger contributions to the discussion and the efforts to make HSR a reality.