Texas Central Railway

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Texas Central
Texas Central logo.png
Overview
StatusPlanned
LocaleTexas
Termini
Stations3
WebsiteTexasCentral.com
Service
TypeHigh-speed rail
Services1
Operator(s)Texas Central Partners, LLC
Rolling stockN700S Series Shinkansen
History
Planned opening2026 (estimated)
Technical
Line length240 mi (390 km)
Number of tracks2
Characterfully grade separated
Track gauge4 ft 8+12 in (1,435 mm) standard gauge
Electrification25 kV 60 Hz AC overhead catenary[1]
Operating speed186–205 mph (299–330 km/h)[2]
Route map

Dallas
Dallas Area Rapid Transit
Brazos Valley
Houston

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.[3] It plans to use technology based on that used by the Central Japan Railway Company and trains based on the N700S Series Shinkansen.[4][5] The company has indicated that the journey time would be less than 90 minutes,[6][7] with service beginning as early as 2026.[8][9][10]

Company[edit]

Lone Star High-Speed Rail LLC was founded in 2009, changing its name to Texas Central Railway in 2012.[11] Texas Central Partners, LLC (TCP), was founded on September 24, 2013,[12] as the company to build and operate the service, with the rail line itself owned by the separate Texas Central Railway (TCR).[11] Texas Central Partners is working with the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) and TxDOT to develop the Environmental Impact Statement required by NEPA.[13] 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.[14]

On June 11, 2022, CEO Carlos Aguilar stepped down after leading Texas Central since December 2016. As of Aguilar's resignation, the company lacks any top management.[15]

Route[edit]

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.[16] In December 2017, the FRA further released their draft environment impact statement for the High-Speed Rail that proposed the preferred route.[17]

From the station in Dallas, located on the west side of The Cedars with pedestrian walkways connecting to Kay Bailey Hutchison Convention Center,[18] 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,[19] site of the former Northwest Mall.

Rolling stock[edit]

An N700S bullet train at Musashi-Kosugi Station in Kawasaki, Kanagawa, Japan

The line was expected to use a variation of the N700 Series Shinkansen modified for export, referred to as the N700-I.[20] However, following the launch of the N700S in Japan, focus has shifted onto this newer model.[2] 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 tested speed in Japan is 224 mph (360 km/h), but they are only allowed to operate at 186 mph (299 km/h) due to strict noise regulations, as trains pass through many urban residential areas.[2]

Signalling[edit]

The signalling of the line is likely to be a replica of the digital ATC system used on Tokaido Shinkansen.[21]

Construction plans and contractors[edit]

In January 2017, President Donald Trump's administration listed the project as a national transportation infrastructure priority.[22]

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.[23] In May 2018, Texas Central announced that global engineering firm Bechtel will work with bullet train developer Texas Central on project management.[24] On September 13 2018, the company earned a $300 million loan for permitting, design and engineering.[25] 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.[26]

In January 2018, plans for the station in Dallas were released as the preferred location identified by the Federal Railroad Administration in their Draft Environmental Impact Statement.[18]

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.[27] 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 2021 and end in 2026.[28][29]

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.[30] Also that month, Texas Central named Citi and MUFG as its financial advisers to spearhead its capital-raising efforts.[31] The Federal permitting the Record of Decision was due by March 27, 2020,[32] and a $5.9 billion design and operation contract was awarded to Renfe in February 2020.[33] FRA regulatory approvals came in September 2020, with construction expected to commence relatively shortly thereafter.[34]

In June 2021, the $16 billion design and construction contract for the line itself was awarded to Webuild, with construction now expected to begin in late 2021 or early 2022.[35]

In September 2021, the CEO of Texas Central, Carlos Aguilar, stated in an interview that there was a 50/50 chance that construction would commence within 6 months, and that much depended on a major infrastructure bill passing the US Congress.[36]

Legal issues[edit]

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,[37] questioning their right to eminent domain. Grimes County has opposed the project.[38]

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, a Harris County, Texas court denied the railroad's petition for summary judgment.[39]

In February 2019, a Leon County District Judge ruled that Texas Central is not a railroad company and therefore does not have the right to conduct surveys on private land.[40]

In July 2019, Texas's 14th Court of Appeals in Houston reversed a previous decision by a lower court which granted summary judgment and issued a permanent injunction in Grimes County's public-nuisance suit against Texas Central and Pacheco Koch Consulting Engineers, Inc.[41]

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.[42]

The case James Fredrick Miles v. Texas Central Railroad and Integrated Texas Logistics, Inc. was appealed to the Supreme Court of Texas.[43] 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.[44] On June 18, 2021, the state supreme court denied review without comment, thereby letting stand the lower appellate court's ruling.[45] A motion for rehearing was filed by the landowner on July 29, 2021, which was followed by numerous amicus curiae letters weighing in on the merits of the project.[46]

On October 15, 2021, the Texas Supreme Court withdrew its denial, reinstated the petition, and set the case for oral argument on January 11, 2022.[47][48] The key legal issue is whether Texas Central qualifies as a “railroad company” or an “interurban electric railway,” and whether an entity must show reasonable probability of project completion to invoke eminent domain authority under Texas Rice Land Partners, LTD. v. Denbury Green Pipeline-Texas, LLC, 363 S.W.3d 192 (Tex. 2012).[49][50]

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.[51]

In June 2022, the Supreme Court of Texas ruled 5-3 that Texas Central has eminent domain authority on land that is needed to build the rail line.[52][53]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Dallas to Houston High-Speed Rail Final Environmental Impact Statement" (PDF). FRA.gov. Federal Rilroad Administration. Retrieved July 26, 2020.
  2. ^ a b c "Learn The Facts". Texas Central. Retrieved July 4, 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. ...'
  3. ^ "Texas Central Partners, LLC". Texas Central.
  4. ^ Whitely, Jason (November 29, 2018). "The Texas bullet train now looks likely. Here's what to expect". Dallas Business Journal. Retrieved December 4, 2019.
  5. ^ Batheja, Aman; Smith, Stephen J. (August 18, 2014). "The Bullet Train That Could Change Everything". The Texas Tribune. The Texas Tribune.
  6. ^ Texas Central. "Learn the Facts". Texas Central Railway.
  7. ^ Begley, Dug (May 10, 2016). "Houston really wants the proposed bullet train to make a stop downtown". Houston Chronicle. Retrieved May 12, 2016.
  8. ^ "Texas Central Media Center". April 27, 2020.
  9. ^ Briginshaw, David (May 13, 2020). "Texas Central wins four-year legal fight with landowners". International Railway Journal. Retrieved July 21, 2020.
  10. ^ Murray, Lance (February 25, 2020). "Texas Central Makes $5.9B Deal With Spanish Firm to Develop, Operate High-Speed Rail Line". Dallas Innovates. Retrieved July 21, 2020.
  11. ^ a b Martin, Joe (February 15, 2017). "Texas Central Partners faces complicated legal battle over access to land". Houston Business Journal. Retrieved July 24, 2020.
  12. ^ "Texas Central Partners LLC". Bloomberg. Retrieved September 27, 2019.
  13. ^ TexDOT. "Dallas-Houston High-Speed Rail Project". Texas Department of Transport.
  14. ^ Baddour, Dylan (July 23, 2015). "Texas high speed rail passes major milestone with first fundraising announcement". Houston Chronicle. Hearst Newspapers, LLC.
  15. ^ Nair, Jishnu (June 13, 2022). "Texas high-speed rail CEO Carlos Aguilar announces departure after 6 years". ABC13 Houston. Retrieved June 29, 2022.
  16. ^ Green, Stephen (August 28, 2015). "Utility corridor gets nod for high-speed rail". The Courier of Montgomery County. Your Houston News.
  17. ^ "Dallas to Houston High-Speed Rail Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) Appendix G TCRR FDCE v7 DWGS VOLUME 1". Federal Railroad Administration. December 15, 2017.
  18. ^ a b Leszcynski, Ray (January 29, 2018). "Texas Central picks downtown Dallas station site for its $15 billion high-speed rail proposal". Dallas Morning News. Retrieved December 4, 2019.
  19. ^ Formby, Brandon (February 5, 2018). "Bullet train developers want to turn Houston's Northwest Mall into major transit hub". The Texas Tribune. The Texas Tribune.
  20. ^ Gubbins, Teresa (September 16, 2019). "The high-speed train planning a Houston-Dallas route now has a builder on board the project". Innovation Map - Houston.
  21. ^ "Texas Central Railroad High-Speed Rail Safety Standards". Federal Railroad Administration. March 10, 2020. Retrieved May 23, 2020.
  22. ^ Global Construction Review Staff (August 15, 2017). "Italian firm to help build Japan-style bullet train in Texas". Global Construction Review.
  23. ^ Quirke, Joe (June 16, 2017). "Texas to begin work on Dallas–Houston bullet train next year". Global Construction Review.
  24. ^ Hethcock, Bill (May 2, 2018). "Engineering giant Bechtel named project manager for Texas Bullet Train". Dallas Business Journal. Retrieved December 4, 2019.
  25. ^ Leszcynski, Ray (September 13, 2018). "Texas Central "Texas Central lands $300 million loan for Dallas-to-Houston bullet train project". Dallas Morning News. Retrieved December 4, 2019.
  26. ^ Slowey, Kim (September 15, 2019). "Texas Central signs design-build agreement with Salini Impregilo-Lane JV for $20B high-speed rail project". Construction Dive. Retrieved December 4, 2019.
  27. ^ Staff (October 12, 2018). "RENFE and ADIF to support Texas Central high speed service". Railway Gazette International. Retrieved December 4, 2019.
  28. ^ "Texas central selects Renfe as operating partner". www.rtands.com. October 11, 2018.
  29. ^ "High speed rail moves ahead: Texas Central proceeds with addition of Italian engineering, construction group". Corsicana Daily Sun. October 9, 2018. Retrieved October 16, 2018.
  30. ^ Hethcock, Bill (February 4, 2019). "Texas Central picks up another partner for bullet train project". Dallas Business Journal. Retrieved December 4, 2019.
  31. ^ "Citi, Mitsubishi Tapped to Raise Money for Texas Rail". Bloomberg. February 21, 2019.
  32. ^ "FRA Permitting Dashboard". August 22, 2017.
  33. ^ Innovates, Dallas (February 25, 2020). "Texas Central Makes $5.9B High-Speed Rail Deal With Spanish Firm".
  34. ^ "FRA approvals pave way for Texas high speed line construction". Railway Gazette. September 23, 2020. Retrieved September 26, 2020.
  35. ^ "Texas Central signs $16B construction contract for high-speed rail project | Community Impact". June 22, 2021. Archived from the original on June 22, 2021. Retrieved July 14, 2021.
  36. ^ "Texas Central CEO Not Optimistic Construction Will Start in Six Months". Railway Age. September 7, 2021. Retrieved October 11, 2021.
  37. ^ Unger, Todd (February 26, 2020). "Ranchers still fighting Texas bullet train". KXXV. Retrieved February 26, 2020.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  38. ^ Falls, Clay (October 21, 2020). "Grimes County joins lawsuit to fight bullet train project". KBTX-3. Retrieved June 21, 2021.
  39. ^ "Texas high-speed rail plan suffers eminent-domain setback in court". star-telegram.
  40. ^ Falls, Clay. "Leon County residents celebrate judge's ruling on proposed bullet train". www.kbtx.com. Retrieved March 2, 2019.
  41. ^ LeCody, Peter (July 28, 2018). "Court of Appeals reverses Grimes County nuisance suit against Texas Central Railway". Texas Rail Advocates.
  42. ^ "Texas' Thirteenth Court of Appeals Rules in Favor of Texas Central". May 7, 2020.
  43. ^ Supreme Court of Texas. "Docket No. 20-0393". Retrieved June 19, 2021.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  44. ^ Bill Spinks, Court again rejects high-speed rail, Waxahachie Daily Light (February 12, 2021).
  45. ^ Community Impact Newspapers (June 18, 2021). "Texas Supreme Court declines to review high-speed rail case". ABC13 Houston. Retrieved June 19, 2021.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  46. ^ Docket. "Miles v. Texas Central Railroad, No. 20-0393". Supreme Court of Texas.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  47. ^ "Order on Causes (October 15, 2021)". Texas Supreme Court.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  48. ^ Arrajj, Shawn (October 15, 2021). "Reversing course, Texas Supreme Court grants rehearing for high-speed rail eminent domain case". Community Impact Newspaper. Retrieved October 18, 2021.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  49. ^ "Case Summaries (October 15, 2021)" (PDF). Texas Supreme Court.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  50. ^ Oliver, Bill (October 15, 2021). "Texas Supreme Court Grants A Leon County Landowner's Request To Review His Lawsuit Against Texas Central's High Speed Rail Project". WTAW | 1620AM & 94.5FM. Retrieved October 18, 2021.
  51. ^ Hoopfer, Evan (July 16, 2020). "Texas Central's high-speed rail project just got easier to build, but hurdles still remain". Dallas Business Journal. Retrieved July 24, 2020.
  52. ^ Merritt, Hope. "Texas Supreme Court rules in favor of Texas Central's right for eminent domain". kbtx.com. Retrieved June 27, 2022.
  53. ^ "Texas Supreme Court says company can use eminent domain for Dallas-Houston bullet train". Dallas News. June 24, 2022. Retrieved June 27, 2022.

External links[edit]