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Texas Bullet Train Gets Construction Date

Monday, December 3, 2018

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Construction on Texas’ new bullet train is slated to begin late next year, according to reports. The project is still awaiting final approval from the Federal Railway Administration, however.

Technology for the $12-15 billion, privately funded bullet train, connecting Dallas to Houston, comes from Central Japan Railway’s Tokaido Shinkansen train. In late October, Texas Central Partners, the firm leading the endeavor, named Italian construction and engineering firm Salini Impregilo as the entity to spearhead civil construction on the project. TCP also named Spanish company Renfe as the operator earlier the same month.

Project History

The bullet train, projected to run 200 mph, covering 240 miles in 90 minutes between Dallas and Houston, with a pitstop in Grimes County, serving A&M University. TCP noted in June that the project is slated to bring in $3 billion in state and local tax revenue by 2040, as well as $36 billion in direct spending, with 10,000 jobs being created during construction and 1,500 maintained when the bullet train opens.

Current station plans include a 60-acre Dallas stop south of the Kay Bailey Hutchinson Convention Center and a 45-acre multi-level train complex on the Northwest Mall site in Houston. Technology for the project will be based on Central Japan Railway’s Tokaido Shinkansen train, which has operated for the past 54 years with zero passenger fatalities or injuries from operations, according to TCP.

In more recent months, property owners have expressed displeasure at the plans for the high-speed rail line, specifically the location of berms that could run through properties, citing concerns over impact to water supply and disruption to livestock. Officials from the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality noted that they would visit these properties individually. It normally takes the TCEQ a year or more to issue a permit or deny a permit for a large project.

In the meantime, TCP stated that it had acquired land-use agreements with roughly one-third of those whose properties will be impacted by the project. In areas where the route has been known for longer, that number rises to nearly half. Other landowners have taken the issue to court: One Leon County landowner argued that the bullet train is not a railroad as defined by Texas law, so the land cannot be seized under eminent domain.

Though TCP will not be tapping into taxpayer dollars to fund the project, and the company is known for having wealthy backers, funding remains an uphill battle.

Construction Start Date

According to news station WFAA, once the final approval is granted, Texas Central will begin looking for financial backers. The train is also still in the design phase, but reports indicate that it will likely be an N700I model train, a modified N700 bullet train currently in use by Central Japan Railways. The “I” in the name stands for “international,” marking the Texas train as something exported. The Texas train will also have eight cars instead of the customary 16.

TCP has not yet revealed how much a ticket for trip from Dallas to Houston will cost, but a company spokesperson noted that it will be competitive with airline options.

In using bullet trains, Japan has an infrastructure advantage over Texas: Passengers can easily connect to subways. Dallas and Houston do not have the same the same infrastructure. But, noted William J. Swinton, of Temple University in Tokyo, the “last mile” leaves the opportunity for companies like Uber, as well as taxis and other businesses within walking distance of the terminus to build themselves out.

Hopes remain high that the bullet train will open in 2024.


Tagged categories: Infrastructure; NA; North America; Program/Project Management; Project Management; Rail

Comment from Tony Rangus, (12/3/2018, 10:45 AM)

I remember the old PSA airline ran hourly flights; San Diego to Los Angeles and Los Angeles to San Francisco that were fairly inexpensive and geared to business men. Time to LA was around 45 minutes for boarding - take-off - landing - deplane. This would have been in the 1960's. Wonder how the train will fare?

Comment from Tom Schwerdt, (12/4/2018, 8:14 AM)

If they can avoid airline style "arrive at the station two hours prior to departure" , there should be a lot of demand.

Comment from peter gibson, (12/6/2018, 6:49 PM)

We'll see how this one goes compared to the CA train to nowhere. A real winner that one.

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