Updated Aug 9, 2023 - News

Amtrak, Texas Central explore bullet train partnership

A bullet train Shinkansen stands in the station of Tokyo city

A Shinkansen bullet train in Tokyo. Texas Central plans to use the same technology for a route between Dallas and Houston. Photo: Soeren Stache/Picture Alliance via Getty Images

Amtrak and Texas Central, the lead entity on building a high-speed rail network between Houston and Dallas, announced Wednesday that they are looking into a new collaboration.

Driving the news: The new partnership being evaluated could open up more opportunities for the future of the route, which has garnered some pushback from communities between the two cities over eminent domain issues since it was first proposed in 2014.

Why it matters: The proposed route would shave hours off the time it normally takes to get between the two cities by car or bus.

  • Think of a leisurely 90-minute train ride versus four or five hours battling traffic.
  • Plus, Amtrak says the train would save 100,000 tons of greenhouse gas emissions per year and take 12,500 cars off Interstate 45 per day.

Current designs call for a station in Houston at the defunct Northwest Mall, a stop in the Brazos Valley and a stop south of downtown Dallas.

Details: The two entities have already submitted joint applications for federal grants to fund studies and design work on the route.

  • Those grant applications are for the Consolidated Rail Infrastructure Safety and Improvements, the Corridor Identification and Development, and the Federal-State Partnership for Intercity Passenger Rail programs.

What they're saying: "The collaboration between Texas Central and Amtrak is an important milestone for the city of Houston and this project," Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner said in a statement. "Our city is committed to advancing transportation initiatives that support economic growth and enhance quality of life for our residents."

  • "Dallas is the engine of the fourth-largest and fastest-growing region in the nation," Dallas Mayor Eric L. Johnson said in a statement. "It is bold, innovative endeavors like this that will propel Dallas toward an even more prosperous future."

State of play: The Texas Supreme Court ruled in 2022 that Texas Central is allowed to use eminent domain to secure right-of-way for the railroad.

  • A series of bills aimed at creating more financial transparency from the private company failed during Texas' 2023 legislative session.

Editor's note: This story has been corrected to reflect that a new partnership between Amtrak and Texas Central is being evaluated, not already in place.

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