Houston-Dallas bullet train gets back on the rails, races greener Texas travel
In the latest chapter in the saga of the high-speed bullet train between Houston and Dallas, Amtrak is now involved.
According to a press release, Texas Central Partners and Amtrak are exploring a partnership to work together on the proposed Dallas-Houston high-speed rail project that's been under consideration for more than a decade.
Amtrak has cooperated with Texas Central on various initiatives since 2016 and the two entities are now evaluating a potential partnership to determine the line's viability.
“If we are going to add more high-speed rail to this country, the Dallas to Houston Corridor is a compelling proposition and offers great potential,” says Amtrak senior VP of High-Speed Rail Development Programs Andy Byford. “We believe many of the country's biggest and fastest-growing metropolitan areas, like Houston and Dallas, deserve more high quality high-speed, intercity rail service, and we are proud to bring our experience to evaluate this potential project and explore opportunities with Texas Central so the state can meet its full transportation needs.”
The route being proposed would span approximately 240 miles, going at 250 mph, resulting in a trip that would take less than 90 minutes between the two cities.
Texas Central has been working towards getting a train rolling since 2013, including lining up a potential builder in 2021. But the project has had pushback from Texas politicians and landowners along the route; a lawsuit against the project was filed by six rural counties in 2021, and the Texas Legislature passed a law prohibiting the state from spending any funds on the project.
Facing a seeming dead end, Texas Central CEO Carlos Aguilar and its board members resigned in June 2022; Michael Bui, a consultant, has been serving as CEO since then.
Texas Central and Amtrak have submitted applications to several federal programs in connection with further study and design work, including the Consolidated Rail Infrastructure Safety and Improvements (CRISI) grant program, the Corridor Identification and Development program, and the Federal-State Partnership for Intercity Passenger Rail (FSP-National) grant program.
Amtrak previously entered into an agreement with Texas Central to provide through-ticketing using the Amtrak reservation system and other support services for the planned high-speed rail line.
"This high-speed train, using advanced, proven Shinkansen technology, has the opportunity to revolutionize rail travel in the southern U.S., and we believe Amtrak could be the perfect partner to help us achieve that,” says Bui in a statement.
Despite its detractors, the project is forecast to provide social, environmental, employment and economic benefits including reducing greenhouse gas emissions by more than 100,000 tons per year, saving 65 million gallons of fuel and removing 12,500 cars per day from I-45.
The release from Amtrak has statements from both Dallas Mayor Eric L. Johnson and Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner, who calls the collaboration between Texas Central and Amtrak "an important milestone for the City of Houston and this project."
Byford joined Amtrak in April 2023 to begin developing a team focused on high-speed opportunities throughout the U.S. In his newly created role, he will develop and lead the execution of Amtrak’s long-term strategy for high-speed rail throughout the country, including the extension of the Crescent from Mississippi through Louisiana and Texas; Kansas DOT’s Heartland Flyer Extension Corridor Identification and Development (Corridor ID) connecting Wichita to Oklahoma and Texas, and TxDOT’s applications for the Texas Triangle (Houston — Dallas – Fort Worth – San Antonio) routes.
This article originally ran on CultureMap.