Texas Central Partners – the outfit that is attempting to bring high-speed rail to Texas – has identified the site Northwest Mall in Houston as the likely location for its Houston station. Northwest Mall is about eight miles from downtown Houston and sits near the intersection of the 610 West Loop and US 290. That location is one of three sites that TCP was considering for its Houston terminus. One major problem is that Houston Metro Rail has no plans for lines in that area and it would seem that a hook up to the local rail system would be an essential ingredient for success.
TCP plans to run high-speed trains (up to 205 mph) between Dallas and Houston with an average travel time of about 90 minutes. The project is expected to cost about $15 billion and is to be completed without state or federal funding.
Red can’t really imagine how the economics of this work but he sure would love to take the train instead of heading to the airport to spend 3 plus hours for a 40 minute flight.
Competition for a high-speed rail network in Texas may be heating up. The Texas Tribune reports that Chinese, French and Japanese interests may be lining up to provide an alternative to the short haul flights that now connect Texas’ major cities. The earliest possible date for actual rail service floating around is 2021. But it can’t happen soon enough for Red.
Texas Central Partners has drawn attention with its plans to develop a Dallas-Houston high-speed rail line using Japanese trains. While that project is furthest along, French and Chinese rail interests are more quietly discussing the prospects for rail projects with state and local officials.
“There comes a time when adding lanes is not a solution anymore, and that’s when you realize you need more public transportation,” said Alain Leray, president of SNCF America, the U.S. subsidiary of French rail operator SNCF. The company has been talking with Texas officials in earnest for about a year about potential rail projects, Leray said.
Chinese-backed rail interests have also approached some transportation officials in Texas about future projects, several transportation officials confirmed.
Backers of the envisioned “bullet train” between Houston and Dallas claim they are still moving forward with the project and are celebrating a successful round of fundraising, seeing a key federal study move forward, and most importantly surviving the scrum of this year’s legislative session. WFAA reports on the proponents and opponents of the ambitious project. The project pits Texas Central Partners who see the benefits of a rail line connected two of America’s largest cities against Texans Against High Speed Rail composed of mostly affected landowners.
Texas Central Partners announced in 2012 a partnership with Japanese train operator JR Central to debut that company’s bullet train technology in Texas. Unlike most other train lines in the country, Texas Central predicts its train will operate at a profit and has pledged to not take public subsidies to cover operational costs. JR Central plans to sell its famed Shinkansen trains to Texas Central and play an advisory role on the system’s operations.
Texas Central officials have described the 240-mile stretch between Dallas and Houston as the country’s most-financially viable prospect for a profitable high-speed rail line, pointing to the large swaths of rural, flat land and the cities’ robust population growth projections as key selling points.
The ambitious proposal immediately drew a healthy mix of excitement and skepticism, with some outright antagonism developing over the last year, as rural communities near the train’s expected path learned more about it.
Texas Central has said it plans to run 62 trips between Houston and Dallas daily. Yet, most Texans in communities along the route won’t be able to ride them. Though the route remains a work in progress, the company has plans for only three stations: Houston, Dallas, and Grimes County near the Bryan/College Station area.
While many Houston- and Dallas-area officials have backed the project, officials in communities in between have mostly come out against it. Statewide officials have largely avoided taking a position.