- Amtrak and Texas Central Partners said Wednesday in a press release that they are evaluating a potential partnership to advance a proposed high-speed rail line connecting Dallas and Houston.
- The Texas Central project dates back more than a decade, and while the private-sector company behind the idea began the process of acquiring land for the railroad’s right-of-way in 2016, little has been heard from the railroad since 2020.
- Former New York City Transit President Andy Byford joined Amtrak in March to lead the national passenger railroad’s long-term strategy for high-speed rail.
The United States lags far behind China, Japan, Spain and many other countries that have extensive networks of bullet trains connecting major cities. Just one new high-speed rail project is under construction in the U.S. — the California project to link San Francisco and Los Angeles — while the Brightline West project between Las Vegas and Southern California may start construction later this year.
Texas Central’s plan for a 240-mile line connecting the state’s two largest cities with 186-mph Shinkansen trains ran into opposition from landowners along the route, political pushback and a legal fight over the use of eminent domain to acquire needed property. But the rail line also won approval in 2020 of its environmental impact statement, and developers signed a $16 billion construction contract in 2021.
“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,” Byford said in a press release. Amtrak said it and Texas Central have submitted applications to federal grant programs.
The U.S. High Speed Rail Coalition applauded the announcement in an emailed statement. “It’s exciting to see Amtrak and Texas Central work together to explore the viability of a world-class high-speed rail line between Dallas and Houston,” said Andy Kunz, president and CEO of USHSR.
According to Amtrak, the Texas Central intercity passenger rail line will move passengers between Houston and Dallas in less than 90 minutes while reducing traffic along I-45 by 12,500 cars per day. When in operation, Texas Central could reduce greenhouse gas emissions by over 100,000 tons per year.
Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner said in a press release that “the potential partnership of these two companies will accelerate the planning and analysis necessary for the successful implementation of a modern, efficient, and environmentally sustainable rail system connecting Houston and Dallas.”
In an interview with Smart Cities Dive last year, U.S. Rep. Seth Moulton, D-Mass., said, “High-speed rail is not just transformative for our biggest cities; it’s transformative for cities and towns all across America. And it’s a way to bring our country together, to show America that investment does not have to just be about our big coastal cities.”
Amtrak also said in the press release that it is looking to increase and expand intercity passenger rail in Texas and in surrounding states.