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Would You Ride a Proposed Bullet Train Through Texas?

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Alain Leray, SNCF America president (one of the largest train operators in the world), has identified that the $15 billion-proposal for the Dallas-to-Houston bullet train pales in comparison to its proposal for a passenger rail service which includes the I-35 corridor. “Look at the state as a whole. Instead of creating a link, create a network,” he explained to media outlets following the filing SNCF’s commentary on the Federal Draft Environmental Statement for the high-speed rail project.

SNCF America is a Maryland-based branch of the French National Railway. Their company pitched a “Texas T-bone” concept in both 2008 and 2016 to the Federal Railroad Administration. The railroad administration chose to proceed with Texas Central Partners on the proposed Dallas-to-Houston bullet train. In a statement, Texas Central noted, “Of course, SNCF, the state-owned and highly-subsidized 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.”

Rival Says Proposed Bullet Train Project Doesn’t Meet the Needs of Texas

Photo: Pixabay

SNCF acknowledged that the trains in Texas Central’s plan are reliable, comfortable, and safe, but mentioned that the technology isn’t compatible with that being used in the U.S. Ultimately, the concern is that if the Texas Central Partners’ project gets implemented first, that could mean end-game for their competition. At present, Federal regulations don’t address high-speed train equipment requirements (for anything in excess of 150 mph.) In this instance, the Texas Central Partners’ project has petitioned for an RPA – a Rule of Particular Applicability. Subsequently, if this RPA gets accepted and the Texas Central Partners successfully build the first bullet train line in America, it will set that precedent.

Rival Says Proposed Bullet Train Project Doesn’t Meet the Needs of Texas

Photo: Pixnio

Speaking in Austin and Waco this week, Leray noted, “I think they have done a remarkable job. They are fighters and go-getters. Their chances of getting an RPA elsewhere becomes so much greater if they get this.” Meeting with those who lost out on the proposed Texas bullet train project, Leray and SNCF officials continue to network on their proposal, which they say makes use of more existing right-of-way and mitigates much of the eminent domain argument. They also make reference to the increased use of Interstate 35 based on the bullet train concept. “When you’re condemning all these people to use I-35, that’s a strain on public highway infrastructure. The Texas Legislature is going to have to have a say,” Leray noted.

Rival Says Proposed Bullet Train Project Doesn’t Meet the Needs of Texas

Photo: Speed of Creativity

In their networking process, SNCF America contends their line proposal would come at a lower price-point. And Texas Central’s project concept doesn’t address the need for a commuter line such as the one that North Central Texas Council of Governments officials are presently working on with planners for Fort Worth to Waco, Temple-Killeen, Austin, San Antonio and Laredo access. There are also questions on cost versus return. Opponents say the Texas bullet train will have a hard time with private funding at their proposed usage rates.


Dallas Morning News

Houston Business Journal