Monday, November 05, 2018

Exploring Houston's MetroRail

MetroRail; South Fannin, Houston, Texas; October 8, 2018
Joining the ranks of cities that have returned light rail and streetcars to the streets is Texas' largest, Houston. MetroRail runs from the South Fannin station, just south of the Astrodome (above), northward along Main Street through downtown Houston. The main north-south line is the Red Line that runs to the Northline Transit Center, almost 13 miles from South Fannin.

At Main Street Square in downtown Houston, the line passes through a block-long water feature, where the cars pass over a small manmade pond with fountains on each side.
MetroRail; Main Street Square, Houston, Texas; October 8, 2018
MetroRail; Main Street Square, Houston, Texas; October 7, 2018
Just north of Main Street Square is an intersecting east-west line. The line terminates just to the west of Main Street at the Theater District station. To the east, the line splits into two, with the 6.6-mile Purple Line to the Palm Center Transit Center and the 3.3-mile Green Line to the Magnolia Park Transit Center. The two lines are together through the Convention District; in this stretch they pass "The Star," the former Texas Company Building (Texaco) now being developed into condos. The Texas Company Building was designed by Warren & Wetmore, who also designed New York's Grand Central Terminal.
MetroRail passing The Star (Texas Company Building), Houston, Texas; October 8, 2018
Houston MetroRail; October 7, 2018

MetroRail began service in 2004 and carries over 50,000 riders each day. The original 18 cars were built by Siemens as S70 cars. A second batch of 19 S70s came in 2011. The third generation of cars are 39 H3 cars from CAF, delivered in 2015. In addition to the cars being numbered in the series they were delivered in (100-series, 200-series, and 300-series), the newest cars are most easily identified by their silver brows.

Expansion of the system has been off-and-on for the last several years as various financial issues have come about. Still, the current three lines provide quick and efficient service around Houston, and the downtown has many interesting photo angles for those wishing to explore.

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