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The Texas Department of Transportation last week voted in favor of providing a $50 million grant to the Capital Metropolitan Transportation Authority to help purchase additional MetroRail cars and construct a permanent, expanded downtown rail station. The agency — which operates commuter-rail service between Leander and downtown Austin, Texas — expects to order four new rail cars at a cost of $28 million that would provide capacity for up to 2,400 passenger trips during peak periods. The MetroRail Downtown Station would replace a temporary facility, and connect the Red Line with future urban rail and local bus service. The new station would feature three tracks and two platforms to accommodate future system expansion and better serve large crowds during special events, according to Capital Metro. The station is expected to cost between $30 million and $35 million; $22 million would be covered by the state grant, and local funds would cover the remainder. The state grant will dovetail with $11.3 million in federal funding that Capital Metro received last year to install double track at strategic locations and increase capacity along the 32-mile commuter-rail line. When combined with the recent federal and local investments, the $50 million state grant will enable the agency to increase train frequency on the Red Line, cutting headways from 34 minutes to 15 minutes during peak periods. Capital Metro also would add a late train after 7 p.m.
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