Texas Central, the company behind the proposed high-speed train that would take passengers between Houston and Dallas in less than 90 minutes, may begin construction in late 2019 or early 2020,Houston Chronicle has repored.
The project has had its detractors. Recently, a judge in Leon County ruled that the company is not a railroad and did not have the authority to make property owners sell or provide land for the rail.
“It’s a very long process. We will be appealing that case,” said David Hagy, regional vice president of external affairs for Texas Central.
Despite the setback, the company plans to move forward, saying that construction for the 240-mile project may begin as early as the end of this year. The construction could take up to five years and cost approximately $12 billion.
The train would travel at 200 miles per hour between 10 counties with trains departing every 30 minutes.
The proposed route runs up through northwest Harris County roughly paralleling U.S. 290 until turning north toward Waller County, according to maps provided on the Texas Central website. The route from Houston to Dallas could include a midpoint stop in Bryan or College Station.
According to estimates, commuters could travel about 50 minutes faster by the proposed train than plane and about 70 minutes faster than by driving in either direction between Houston to Dallas.
Aside from a fast commute, the rail may also alleviate congestion along the major roadways between Houston to Dallas, including Interstate 45.
In 2018, Texas Central said it had obtained about a third of the needed properties between both cities.
Texas Central said it is not taking state funding for the proposed train and will be turning to investors instead.
“While this is a transportation alternative between Houston and Dallas, it’s not going to take money from other transportation projects that are really, really needing it instead,” Hagy said.
Another high-speed train project was recently canceled in California after Gov. Gavin Newsom said there “isn’t a path” to completing the 171-mile rail between San Francisco to Los Angeles that would have cost up to $77 billion to construct.
Hagy said Houston and Dallas were chosen because both cities had a population of about 7 million people, which could help justify and sustain the need for a rail.
Unlike California, the terrain along the route from Houston to Dallas is also mostly flat, allowing the construction to be more straightforward without the need to dig tunnels or build additional infrastructure to support the train.
One of the most important considerations in determining the route is making sure it is as straight as possible for safety reasons, Hagy said.
“Not a lot of mountains, not a lot of earthquakes, things of that nature. Not a lot of tunneling, not a lot of rivers. We came to Texas because of the number of people and the flatness in between,” he said.
The Texas train would be modeled after Japan’s Shinkansen High-Speed Train system that travels between Tokyo and Osaka, which was chosen because of its safety record and efficiency.
The proposed tracks would have one train each traveling northbound or southbound and not share the rail with freight trains, Hagy said.
“We found the best technology in the world and we found the best place to put it in,” Hagy said.