Posts Tagged ‘Texas Central’

Texas Central Beats Back Adversaries in Legislature

May 18, 2019

Texas Central has managed to turn back 11 bills that were introduced into the Texas legislature during the current session that had been designed to delay or thwart its plans to develop a high-speed rail line between Dallas and Houston.

Most of the bills had been introduced on behalf of landowners located next to the proposed right of way.

However, Texas Rail Advocates President Peter LeCody told Trains magazine that there was still a chance that an amendment or rider detrimental to the interests of Texas Central could be attached to a bill before the legislature ends its session on May 27.

One such rider has already been struck from a budget bill that would have banned the Texas Department of Transportation from coordinating with Texas Central.

Some land owners have expressed fear that Texas Central might use eminent domain laws to condemn property, an authority granted by Texas law for purposes of developing highways, railroads, and such public utilities as power lines and pipelines.

Some Texas Central opponents have argued that TC is not yet a railroad because it doesn’t yet operate any trains.

A draft environmental impact statement has noted that 52 percent of the Texas Central right of way will be adjacent to power line corridors.

The proposed high-speed rail operator continues to determine the route it will take, including the process of negotiating and signing deals with property owners.

The company has said it has more than 30 percent of its needed parcels of land under an option contract.

Much of the Texas Central right of way will be elevated and built on earthen berms or viaducts.

In an unrelated matter, Texas Central recently released an updated ridership study that found more more than 6 million passengers are expected to rider TC trains by 2029.

Ridership is expected to reach 13 million by 2050. The latest study was conducted by L.E.K. Consulting and updated a study it conducted in 2016.

The study also found that TC trains will save 60 to 90 minutes per trip between Houston and Dallas and that 72 percent of frequent travelers between the two metropolitan areas who responded said they “probably” or “definitely” would take the train.

Of those surveyed, 85 percent said they had traveled between Houston and the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex in the past year.

The Houston-North Texas “super economy” is expected to grow by 1.5 percent per year to 2050, nearly twice the U.S. national average.

Texas House Committee Hears Anti-Rail Bills

April 24, 2019

Eleven bills designed to stymie development of the proposed Texas Central high-speed rail project have been considered by a transportation committee of the Texas House.

Although none of the bills has yet to receive a committee vote that might occur later.

Representatives of Texas Central spoke against the bills at a hearing. Also opposing the legislation were the North Central Texas Council of Governments and members of various local and regional businesses and advocacy groups.

Rail advocates say that many of the bills are repeats of bills that failed during the 2017 legislative session.

They include proposals to require trains to be elevated at least 40 feet above ground level, mandating that the technology used conforms to that of existing railroads, allow a county commissioners court to stop a project if permission is not granted for access to a county road, banning the use of private activity bonds for a high-speed rail project that runs contrary to other transportation efforts, imposing rules that would it make it difficult or impossible to survey land for a rail project; setting up rules concerning bonds and options on land needed for construction, and forcing a route to be dismantled and the land put back into its original condition in the event of a railroad going bankrupt.

Texas Central Seeking STB Hearing

March 30, 2019

Would-be high-speed operator Texas Central is asking the U.S. Surface Transportation Board to hold a public hearing on the question of whether the agency has jurisdiction over the proposed Dallas-Houston rail line.

Opponents of the project have sought to block it by arguing that the STB does not have jurisdiction.

In its brief presented to the STB, Texas Central has asked the agency to interpret its jurisdiction over high speed rail and whether that will  will establish a significant precedent as additional high-speed rail projects are developed in the United States.

Texas Central hopes that this will allow STB members to examine the arguments and claims in back-and-forth questioning.

The case hinges on how the STB views a through-ticketing arrangement that it reached with Amtrak.

The STB could view this as evidence that Texas Central’s service is part of an interstate rail system, thus giving the STB jurisdiction.

Texas Rail Line Called one of World Top Projects

March 7, 2019

An infrastructure advocacy group has named the proposed Texas Central high-speed rail project as the one world’s top global infrastructure projects.

CG/LA Infrastructure, which on its website describes its mission as seeking “to support the doubling of global infrastructure investment by 2020,” singled out the Houston-Dallas-Fort Worth project.

In a news release, Texas Central described its project as a “transformational project that is generating attention and excitement among infrastructure experts who recognize it as a catalyst for creating jobs, boosting the economy and providing a much-needed transportation choice.”

Texas Central Hires Advisers

February 27, 2019

Texas Central had hired Citi and MUFG to serve as its  financial advisers and lead capital-raising activities.

The two firms will help Texas Central acquire financing across debt and equity to finance a privately funded high-speed rail service between Houston and North Texas.

In a news release, Texas Central said that Citi will serve as the sole global coordinator and lead financial adviser, while MUFG will be a co-global financial adviser.

Texas Central Chooses Environment Consultant

February 10, 2019

Texas Central has chosen a consultant to create an environmental protection plan for its proposed high-speed rail line.

It has hired Resource Environmental Solutions to provide ecological mitigation services and ensure that the rail line complies with U.S. Army Corps of Engineers requirements to restore, enhance and preserve wetlands, streams and environmentally sensitive habitats along the train’s route between Houston and Dallas.

RES will select mitigation sites and designs that improve the ecological functions of such areas as the Trinity River, Navasota River, Spring Creek and Cypress Creek.

Texas Central said it also wants to be proactive in working with community leaders to determine opportunities for conservation.

In an unrelated development, some Texas lawmakers have introduced bills in the current session of the state legislature that are designed to halt development of the Texas Central project.

Many of those bills mirror legislation introduced in the last session when 20 bills were introduced seeking to kill the project. None of them became law.

One of the bills was filed by first-term legislator Cody Harris who wants to create a joint committee of House and Senate members to look at the future development of high-speed rail.

However, in a news release, Harris acknowledged that his bill’s purpose is to “put up more roadblocks on the HSR by evaluating the feasibility of creating a statewide high-speed rail initiative through a public-private partnership.”

The committee would meet between sessions to address the feasibility of creating a statewide high-speed rail initiative through a public-private partnership.

The legislation has been attacked by Texas rail advocates.

“Representative Harris is misinformed on the premise of wasting billions of taxpayer dollars since Texas Central is not accepting any funding from either state or federal agencies to build their high-speed line,” Texas Rail Advocates President and Rail Passengers Chairman Peter LeCody said.

“If this was a public project instead of a private-investor led initiative it would probably cost three times the amount to build and take years longer. Mr. Harris should also realize that Texas Central would be a taxpayer to help fund local schools. Letting private enterprise lead the way in Texas with this massive job-creating project to connect the two mega-powerhouse regions is the logical step. The state demographer says that over 80 percent of Texans now live on or east of the I-35 corridor. This rail project will help unite those regions and allow for more fluid movement in the future.”

Texas Central Expects 2019 Groundbreaking

December 5, 2018

A Texas intercity rail firm expects to break ground late in 2019 for a route between Dallas and Houston.

Texas Central said the equipment to be used on the route is likely be an N700I model train, which is a modified version of the N700 bullet train that Central Japan Railways operates.

The letter T in the model designation denotes international use and intention for export.

The N700I is thought to be similar to the recently-released N700S, which is lighter and more efficient than the original N700.

However, the Texas trains will be eight cars rather than 16.

Texas Central plans to seek funding once its proposal has been approved by the Federal Railroad Administration.

It has said it already has plans to acquire a third of the property it needs and is in negotiations to obtain the remaining land that it needs.

Texas Central Taps Renfe

October 11, 2018

Spanish company Renfe has been chosen to help operate a Texas high-speed rail service under development.

Texas Central said it has established a partnership with Renfe to operate the proposed service between Dallas and Houston.

Renfe will provide technical advice on design and construction and help Texas Central with operation and maintenance plans.

Another Spanish company, Adif, will help Renfe maintain equipment and signals, and oversee ticketing.

Renfe operates 5,000 trains daily on 7,500 miles of track in Spain.

Texas Central Secures $300M Loan

September 17, 2018

The developers of a Texas high-speed rail passenger system have secured a $300 million loan.

Texas Central Partners will use the money to work toward getting permits for the rail line as well as engineering work.

A Dallas newspaper said the loan is being backed by financiers in Japan.

The 240-mile rail line would link Dallas and Houston and become the first privately owned high-speed train in the United States.

Texas Central has said it plans to use Japanese Shinkansen technology for the train.

“This is a loan to be paid back with interest,” the company said in a statement. “It does not change the train’s majority-Texan ownership.”

Texas Central has also received funding from investors living in Texas. The project is expected to cost between $12 billion to $15 billion.

Amtrak, Texas Central Reach Agreement

May 8, 2018

High-speed rail developer Texas Central has reached an agreement with Amtrak to use the latter’s reservation system once its high-speed Dallas-Houston system begins service.

In a news release, Texas Central said the agreement will allow for a through-ticketing option to better enable passengers to transfer between the two rail systems.

Texas Central also will be able to purchase such Amtrak services as training, marketing and sales.Construction of the Texas Central route has yet to begin.

The Federal Railroad Administration is working to complete a study of the proposed 240-mile route.

The FRA issued a draft environmental impact statement last December that is now the subject of a public comment period.

Amtrak ceased offering service between Dallas and Houston in 1995 when it discontinued a leg of the Texas Eagle.