BRYAN, Texas (KBTX) – In an effort to reshape the future of transportation in Texas, Texas Central Partners and Amtrak have announced they are seeking a potential partnership to advance planning and analysis for the proposed Dallas-Houston 205-mph high-speed rail project.
The approximately 240-mile route promises a travel time of under 90 minutes between two of the nation’s largest metropolitan areas, with a potential stop along the route in Grimes County.
“If we are going to add more high-speed rail to this country, the Dallas to Houston Corridor is a compelling proposition and offers great potential,” said Amtrak Senior Vice President of High-Speed Rail Development Programs Andy Byford. “We believe many of the country’s biggest and fastest-growing metropolitan areas, like Houston and Dallas, deserve more high quality high-speed, intercity rail service and we are proud to bring our experience to evaluate this potential project and explore opportunities with Texas Central so the state can meet its full transportation needs.”
Texas Central and Amtrak have submitted applications to several federal programs in connection with further study and design work for the project, including the Consolidated Rail Infrastructure Safety and Improvements grant program, the Corridor Identification and Development program, and the Federal-State Partnership for Intercity Passenger Rail grant program.
Amtrak has worked with Texas Central since 2016 when it entered into agreements to provide through-ticketing using the Amtrak reservation system and other support services for the planned high-speed rail line, according to a news release shared Wednesday by Amtrak.
“This high-speed train, using advanced, proven Shinkansen technology, has the opportunity to revolutionize rail travel in the southern U.S., and we believe Amtrak could be the perfect partner to help us achieve that,” said Texas Central Chief Executive Officer Michael Bui. “We appreciate Amtrak’s continued collaboration and look forward to continuing to explore how we can partner in the development of this important project.”
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For advocates of high-speed rail, Wednesday’s joint announcement from Texas Central and Amtrak marked a promising turn of events.
The mayors of both Houston and Dallas shared statements applauding the continued vision to build the high-speed rail but opponents who mostly reside along the proposed route have expressed their share of concerns for years.
The High-Speed Rail Alliance prised the potential partnership and says having Amtrak join Texas Central is a very crucial step for the project to move forward.
“North Texas Council of Governments is actually doing the prep work to allow the Houston to Dallas project to be extended to Ft. Worth which brings even more people into this,” said Rick Harnish, High-Speed Rail Alliance Executive Director.
“It’s critical to the future of Texas and to the future of the United States that that line and others get built quickly,” Harnish added.
However, opponents of the project have been quick to voice their concerns following today’s announcement. Their concerns align with longstanding doubts about the project’s viability and the initial presentation as a private partnership.
The organization Texans Against High-Speed Rail shared the following message on its Facebook page Wednesday: “So much for privately funded. Call your state and local representatives, members of Congress, your neighbors, and whoever will answer your call to let them know the HSR is being brought back from the dead by Amtrak of all entities. This isn’t finished.”
“Now that Amtrak is involved and is partnering that means your tax dollars are defiantly at risk so it was a bait and switch, maybe from the beginning,” said Texans Against High-Speed Rail President and Waller County Judge Trey Duhon.
“We said there was no way it could be privately financed, the numbers never made sense and our fear was that taxpayer dollars would be involved at some point and they were not being honest about it,” Duhon added.
Duhon says Texans Against High-Speed Rail will continue to fight for private property rights, transparency, and fiscal accountability.
“They are picking the pocket of Texas taxpayers, taxpayers all over the country cause it’s Amtrak. Whether you’re along the route or not like I’ve always said this may not go through your back yard but it may go through your pocketbook,” said Duhon.
John Sitilides, federal affairs advisor to the Texas business and civic coalition Reroute the Route released a statement Wednesday afternoon in opposition to the partnership.
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