Texas Central Railway
|Operator(s)||Texas Central Partners, LLC|
|Rolling stock||N700S Series Shinkansen|
|Line length||240 mi (390 km)|
|Number of tracks||2|
|Character||fully grade separated|
|Track gauge||4 ft 8+1⁄2 in (1,435 mm) standard gauge|
|Electrification||25 kV 60 Hz AC Overhead catenary|
|Operating speed||186–205 mph (299–330 km/h)|
Texas Central or Texas Central Partners, LLC is a private railroad company that is proposing a high-speed rail line between Dallas/Fort Worth and Houston. It plans to use technology based on that used by the Central Japan Railway Company and trains based on the N700 Series Shinkansen. The company has indicated that the journey time would be less than 90 minutes, with service beginning as early as 2026.
Lone Star High-Speed Rail LLC was founded in 2009, changing its name to Texas Central Railway in 2012. Texas Central Partners, LLC (TCP) was founded on September 24, 2013 as the company to build and operate the service, with the rail line itself owned by the separate Texas Central Railway (TCR). Texas Central Partners is working with the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) and TxDOT to develop the Environmental Impact Statement required by NEPA. In July 2015 the company announced that it had secured $75 million of private funding to allow the project to move forward from feasibility studies to development planning.
The President and CEO of Texas Central Partners is Carlos F. Aguilar, and he is responsible for the company's finance, development, construction and eventual operations. In December 2015 the company announced that it had appointed two new executives to help develop the project, both reporting to the CEO. The appointments are as follows:
- Managing Director, External Affairs – Holly Reed. She was previously Regional vice president of external affairs for AT&T.
- Chief Finance Officer (CFO) – Lori Willox. She is a certified public accountant, and was previously a Senior vice president and CFO for Balfour Beatty’s Central region.
On August 10, 2015 the U.S. Department of Transportation and Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) issued a report that supported the so-called utility corridor for the line. In December 2017, the FRA further released their draft environment impact statement for the High-Speed Rail that proposed the preferred route.
From the station in Dallas, located on the west side of The Cedars with pedestrian walkways connecting to Kay Bailey Hutchison Convention Center, the route runs on elevated tracks parallel to a BNSF Railway line leaving the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex. The line then proceeds through Ellis, Navarro, Freestone, Limestone, Leon, and Madison Counties. One intermediate station is planned for unincorporated Grimes County in order to serve the cities of Bryan-College Station and Huntsville, Texas, which includes more than 100,000 students at Texas A&M University (the state's largest), Blinn College, and Sam Houston State University, combined. The line then passes through Waller County before entering Harris County and the Houston area. The train line would run parallel to U.S. 290, Hempstead Highway and another Union Pacific Railroad freight line before ending at the Houston station, site of the former Northwest Mall.
The line was expected to use a variation of the N700 Series Shinkansen modified for export, referred to as the N700-I. However, following the launch of the N700S in Japan, focus has shifted onto this newer model. Its modular buildup makes it easier to change the train length from the 16 cars used in Japan and it is tested for higher top speeds, removing the need to perform expensive modifications. Trains in the US will consist of eight cars and are expected to have a top speed of 205 mph (330 km/h). Their top speed in Japan is 220 mph (350 km/h), but only travels at 186 mph (299 km/h) due to stricter noise regulations.
Construction plans and contractors
In June 2017, it was stated that construction would begin in 2019 and would support 10,000 jobs during each year of the construction process and 1,500 permanent jobs once operations begin. In May 2018, Texas Central announced that global engineering firm Bechtel will work with bullet train developer Texas Central on project management. On September 13 2018, the company earned a $300 million loan for permitting, design and engineering. The company selected Salini Impregilo and its U.S. subsidiary Lane Construction Company to lead the civil construction consortium that will build the Texas passenger line, to the top of the rails, including viaducts, embankments and drainage.
In October 2018, Texas Central named Spanish railway company Renfe Operadora as the train's operating partner. The operator will run the trains; maintain system components, such as the engines, signals and other equipment; oversee ticketing, passenger loyalty programs and other services. In September 2019, Texas Central signed a further design-build contract with the joint venture Salini-Lane to lead the effort to supply the civil infrastructure scope of design, construction and installation as well as the design and construction of the viaduct and embankment sections along the entire route, the installation of the track system and the alignment and construction of all buildings and services along the route that will house maintenance and other rail system equipment. Construction is slated to begin as early as 2020 and end in 2026.
In February 2019, Texas Central announced that it had contracted Resource Environmental Solutions (RES) for ecological mitigation services to help protect and enhance natural ecosystems and the environmental throughout construction and operations. Also that month, Texas Central named Citi and MUFG as its financial advisers to spearhead its capital-raising efforts. The Federal permitting the Record of Decision was due by March 27, 2020, and a $5.9 billion construction deal was awarded to Renfein in February 2020. FRA regulatory approvals came in September 2020, with construction expected to commence shortly thereafter.
The right-of-way to be acquired from private property owners is a significant factor for the project. Ranchers living along the proposed route have challenged the company's attempts to survey and construct the line, questioning their right to eminent domain. Grimes County has opposed the project.[failed verification]
Texas Central Railroad filed a lawsuit against a landowner that refused to allow survey crews onto his land. The railroad filed for summary judgment in the case, Texas Central Railroad and Infrastructure vs Calvin House, arguing that it was entitled to require private landowners to allow land surveys for possible future eminent domain purchases under Texas state law. However, in a December 2016 ruling, the Harris County, Texas court denied the railroad's petition for summary judgment.
In July 2019, Texas's 14th Court of Appeals in Houston reversed a previous decision by a lower court which granted summary judgement and issued a permanent injunction in Grimes County's public-nuisance suit against Texas Central and Pacheco Koch Consulting Engineers, Inc.
In May 2020, Texas's 13th Court of Appeals ruled that Texas Central Railroad and Infrastructure, Inc. and Integrated Texas Logistics, Inc.) are both railroad companies and interurban electric railways.
The case James Fredrick Miles v. Texas Central Railroad and Integrated Texas Logistics, Inc. was appealed to the Supreme Court of Texas. The Ellis County commissioners' court, and other counties along the proposed route which oppose high-speed rail, filed an amicus brief in support of the challenge to the project. On June 18, 2021, the state supreme court denied review without comment, thereby letting stand the lower appellate court's ruling.
On July 16, 2020, the federal Surface Transportation Board ruled that Texas Central Railroad is part of the interstate rail network based on its through-ticketing with Amtrak, and therefore subject to the STB's jurisdiction.
- "Dallas to Houston High-Speed Rail Final Environmental Impact Statement" (PDF). FRA.gov. Federal Rilroad Administration. Retrieved 26 July 2020.
- "Learn The Facts". Texas Central. Retrieved 4 July 2019.
... Shinkansen trains can travel smoothly and comfortably at speeds up to 205 mph. Train service in Texas will likely begin at 186 mph, which will allow for a total trip time of less than 90 minutes between Houston and Dallas. Subject to regulatory approval and market demands, maximum train speeds could be increased up to 205 mph. ...'
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