Texas Central Opponents Try New Argument

A group seeking to thwart development of the Texas Central line high-speed rail line between Houston and Dallas is trying to take advantage of planned Amtrak service reductions as a new way to attack the project.

The opponents of the Texas Central project are citing Amtrak plans to reduce the frequency of operation of long-distance trains as a rational to hinder if not kill the project.

They are calling for Texas Central to submit new ridership projections to the U.S. Surface Transportation Board because connecting service by Amtrak may be sharply reduced if not eliminated.

They cited the letter sent May 25 from Amtrak CEO William Flynn to Congress saying that long-distance routes are at risk unless Congress approves a $1.4 billion supplemental appropriation for fiscal year 2021 on top of the carrier’s funding request.

The foes say connections with Amtrak were part of the rational for Texas Central to receive federal funding because that would make it part of the U.S. interstate passenger rail network.

In response, Texas Central said that whatever actions that Amtrak might take in regards to its long-distance service to Texas is irrelevant.

It noted that it plans to begin service in 2026, six years after the COVID-19 crisis.

Texas Central also said that it will need a three-year period to reach the long term through-passenger volumes projected by Amtrak’s proprietary ridership model.

It also said that Amtrak has said it hopes to restore service quickly, possibly as soon as the summer and has not said coronavirus-driven declines would last five years beyond Fiscal 2021.

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