Texas Central Responds to Criticism of Dallas-Houston Bullet Train

UPDATE:  THE COMPANY BUILDING THE DALLAS TO HOUSTON RAIL LINK TODAY RELEASED THIS STATEMENT:

“Of  course, SNCF, the state-owned and heavily subsidized (at more than $16  billion a year) French National Railway would declare they are against competition and block the world’s best  high-speed train technology from coming to the U.S. 

Contrary to the  European model, railroads in Texas are privately owned and operated, and  meet the needs of the market, not top-down government plans. Rather than spend the amount of time and resources that Texas  Central has invested over many years, the French State Railway is one of  many competitors that would prefer to skip to the front of the line and  thwart Texas Central’s progress. 

Consistent  with their operations in Europe, the French state-owned National  Railway admits that its plans would require significant public-sector investment, including ongoing operational  subsidies. T

his approach ignores Texas law and public sentiment and  provides an ill-informed and thinly veiled attempt to appeal to the U.S.  government to eliminate its competition, which is introducing high-speed train service between Houston and North Texas. 

While  under investigation at home for increasing debt burden to the state,  failed efficiency and safety results (Spinetta Report, Feb 15, 2018), the French National Railway is seeking to find a  home for its trains in Texas. They don’t like competing with the  Shinkansen system planned for Texas because of its safety design that  has resulted in zero accidents or fatalities in over 53 years of operation.

 In fact, in 2009, validating Texas Central’s  current approach, SNCF delivered a proposal to Request for Expressions  of Interest, saying verbatim on page 11: 

“…high-speed  lines must be designed exclusively for high-speed trains for the  following reasons: additional safety constraints, operating challenges in optimizing timetables, extra costs of cab  signaling equipment for conventional infrastructure and rolling stock,  reduced allowances on super-elevation and gradients, and shallower track  curves. Meeting these requirements is best done by placing HSR on separate dedicated tracks which prohibit mixed  traffic. 

Segregation of high-speed service enables operators to achieve  higher average speeds and limits the need for additional track to allow  for passing…. This also lessens the causes of delays and leads to dramatic improvements in train punctuality and the  reliability of scheduled services.” 

Now,  for their own self-interests reasons alone, they blast the Texas Bullet  Train approach, disregarding their own principles for high-speed trains. It is the safety program and culture that has  made the system being deployed in Texas the best in class for the world.  

To be clear, Texas Central will not compromise safety in any way. Connecting  the Houston and North Texas area creates a community of more than14  million people and an annual $998 million GDP- and growing. (Mexico’s GDP is projected to be $987 million this  year.)  That is exactly what drew Texas Central to this market and why  we are designing a high-speed train system to connect these two economic  engines with thousands of travelers in between every day.”

 As the saying goes, “People who say it cannot be done should not interrupt those who are doing it.”                

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A report out today gives two thumbs down to a proposed privately funded high speed rail line running between Dallas and Houston, News Radio 1200 WOAI reports.

SNCF America, a subsidiary of the company that operated France's high speed rail connection between Paris and Lyon, and the operator of several passenger rail systems worldwide, says the Texas proposal would not be profitable, and would suck up capital which would be badly needed for another rail proposal, the so-called T-Bone Network, which would run from Dallas through Austin and San Antonio to Laredo, and then east to Houston.

"The “T-Bone” network would serve Houston, College Station, Dallas, Fort Worth, Waco, Temple, Georgetown, San Marcos, and San Antonio, a much more efficient way of connecting these cities than would be possible after the construction of the proposed TCR Dallas-Houston route," SCNF said in a statement.

"If the TCR line is built, Texas will lose the opportunity to develop a network that serves cities along the congested I-35 corridor, as well as the critical combined ridership from all of these cities, which would share large portions of track infrastructure and improve the prospects of running a more financially viable operation."

Texas has been struggling with the concept of high speed rail ever since a plan was proposed in the late 1980s to connect Dallas, Houston, and San Antonio by high speed rail, but it collapsed amid fears that too much state money and state loan guarantees would be tied up in the project.

Since then, several proposals for high speed rail have been floated but have essentially gotten nowhere. There has even been a proposal made to build a rail line over the existing I-35.

The Lone Star Rail District, a decade long plan to construct a standard speed commuter rail system between San Antonio and Georgetown, failed in 2017 after the Union Pacific, seeing increased freight traffic on the rail line the passenger system would have used, pulled out of the project.

The so-called I-45 Route has gained support largely because it would be privately constructed, but the builders have run into strong opposition from land owners who are hesitating to sell their property for use as a rail right of way.

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