What is in store for a Possible Dallas-Houston Bullet Train?

What is in store for a Possible Dallas-Houston Bullet Train?

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DALLAS (TIP): The fight
 over Texas Central Railway — aka. the Texas Bullet Train — rests on 
many of the contentious fault lines that shape the Lone Star State. City
 interests versus rural identity. Urban dwellers versus people who want 
their stars at night to shine big and bright.

Mostly, it is about land. Who controls 
it, what’s the best use for it and how much of it can the two metro 
areas — Houston and Dallas — claim so their economic futures are secure.

“How do you achieve that balance?” 
Harris County Precinct 4 Commissioner Jack Cagle asked. He supports the 
project despite the strong opposition of many in his district. “They 
don’t want to have that next generation of development, and you have to 
be sensitive to that.”

Sensitivity, however, has not dissuaded local officials from full-throated support of the project.

Supporters call the project an honest 
attempt at taking Texas’ size and shrinking it, so the metro regions 
will prosper. The train and its tracks — 200 feet wide, 240 miles long —
 are an all-electric attempt and a new option for convenience and 
conveyance, for Americans.

“It is just marvelous to go from the 
downtown of one city to the downtown of another city,” said Felix 
Madrigal, a Hutchins resident who came to support the train in Dallas at
 a Jan. 29 meeting held by the Federal Railroad Administration.

When both metro areas have 10 million or
 more residents — which demographers expect over the next 25 to 30 years
 — Interstate 45 will be overloaded. Widening it won’t handle the 
anticipated travel demand, even with autonomous cars cruising at more 
than 90 mph.

“It is false security to think automated
 technology will solve our travel,” said Sam Lott, an engineer and 
professor who has overseen dozens of rail plans and feasibility studies 
in a roughly 40-year career.

Texas Central wants to build another way
 to move. It is seeking federal approval for a privately-funded 
high-speed rail line using Japanese Shinkansen trains. The line would be
 a sealed corridor between a station on the southern end of downtown 
Dallas and Northwest Mall in Houston at Loop 610 and U.S. 290.

Trains would operate every 30 minutes, 
with the trip taking 90 minutes end-to-end. A third stop is planned in 
the Roans Prairie area northeast of Navasota, aimed at luring travelers 
from College Station and Huntsville.

A ticket for the train would be 
comparable to airline prices, which average $199 each way for 
Houston-to-Dallas flights. Like airline tickets, prices would fluctuate 
based on sales and how early in advance someone purchases a fare.

“We have different prices for families,”
 Texas Central CEO Carlos Aguilar said, noting his priority is making 
the trains tempting for all travelers.

The company expects at least 5 million 
people to hop aboard annually, as airlines focus on other connections 
and travel times via I-45 prompt some to look for alternatives. A 
Federal Railroad Administration draft environmental report estimated 
ridership as high as 7.2 million a year.


The ridership estimate, which opponents 
call preposterous, is ambitious, compared to the roughly 700,000 
travelers who fly between the metro areas each year.


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