Bullet train to speed into Texas

train

The Texas bullet train project would be the first of its kind in the U.S., traveling at 200 mph between Dallas and Houston.

Texas Central Partners, a private company, is leading the project, which is estimated to have an economic impact of $36 billion over the next 25 years.

Holly Reed, company external affairs director, spoke about the bullet train Thursday at the 2017 South Texas Transportation Conference in Victoria.

“The project is in Texas, but it’s on a national stage,” Reed said. “It’s the right project being done the right way at the right time.”

The ride between Dallas and Houston would last about 90 minutes and would depart every 30 minutes during peak times and seat 400 people, Reed said. The drive between the two cities takes about 41/2 hours.

The federal government is in the process of conducting an environmental study, which has to be completed before construction starts, Reed said. Texas Central Partners expects to break ground in late 2018 or early 2019. Construction would take four to five years.

The project is expected to bring 10,000 direct jobs during each year of construction, and 1,000 direct permanent jobs in the new U.S. industry of high-speed rial. Not all the jobs will be in Houston and Dallas, but one-third will be in rural areas, Reed said.

The project’s total cost will be about $15 billion and will not be funded by federal or state funds, Reed said. The train will be backed by private equity, and Texas Central Partners will pay about $2.5 billion in tax revenue between now and 2040 as a result of the infrastructure investment.

More than 14 million people travel between the Houston and Dallas areas a year, and congestion between the two regions has increased 10 percent each year since 2012, Reed said. The train will help relive the congestion on Interstate 45 between Dallas and Houston, the deadliest highway in the nation, she said.

“It is the perfect solution for the congestion here in Texas,” Reed said. “(It’s the) right solution for moving you across two of the largest economies in the state.”

The train will be purchased from Japan, where bullet trains have a 52-year flawless record and are the safest in the world, she said. The train will travel on two separate dedicated tracks going north and south with no interruptions, and most of the track will be elevated.

“You also don’t ever cross a road,” Reed said. “You remove the risk of an accident or running into a passenger train.”

Ticket costs will vary, depending on when a trip is booked and peak travel times.

The train will have three stops: Houston, Dallas and the Brazos Valley, where Texas A&M University, Sam Houston University and Blinn College are located.

“(The train will be) in your site for less than 3 seconds when at full speed,” Reed said.

The stops in Houston and Dallas will be in the downtown areas and will give real estate developers new opportunities for projects, she said.

“When you build a station where you have 400 people arriving and departing every day it will actually build up the tax base in that area,” Reed said.

Company officials are finalizing the route, and working with landowners every day to purchase land, she said.

Texas Central Partners isn’t stopping with the high-speed rail route between Dallas and Houston; it hopes to bring more routes across Texas and the nation, Reed said.

“It’s a big idea, not any different than the first semiconductor that was built at TI (Texas Instrument) or when NASA put a man on the moon,” Reed said. “This is an example of a project that has the principles that made all of those companies great.”

Courtesy of Kathryn Cargo / Victoria Advocate

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