Texas High Speed Rail in 2024?

Posted on by Defensive Driving | in The Daily Drive

In 2023, we took a look at the Texas high speed rail project, which has been in progress for more than 20 years. What’s new since 2023? A new CEO, an Amtrak partnership proposal, reaffirmed support from the White House and Japan, a discussion between the CEO and the Texas House of Representatives, and no meaningful updates about progress or timelines.

THE PITCH:

Tens of thousands of people drive to/from Houston to DFW every day. Going one step further, it’s estimated that 100,000 people either work in Dallas while living in Houston (or vice versa) and make the commute several times per week.
High speed rail is already a reality in other states and countries. In Japan, high-speed rail has been providing reliable and safe service since the 1960s.
DFW & Houston represent the 4th and 5th largest metros in the US. Connecting them by high-speed rail would create a mega-metro with countless economic benefits.
The time from A to B using existing high-speed train technology would be less than 90 minutes.
Thousands of Texans already commute more than 60 minutes each way every day.

A Brief History (Revisited)

In 2009, the government outlined their plans for an investment of $8 Billion dollars into high-speed passenger rail in 10+ regions across the country. In 2010, the project to connect Dallas and Houston was born as Lone Star High Speed Rail. In 2012, the company working on the project renamed itself to Texas Central Railway and partnered with the Japanese company that currently operates Japan’s largest high-speed rail operation. In 2015, the company named a CEO and finalized the route. Lawsuits popped up from various landowners along the route, to stop the company from being able to survey the land. There was an extended back and forth regarding whether the company was considered a railroad company, and their subsequent ability to use of eminent domain to claim land along their proposed route. These lawsuits dragged on for years; both in the court of public opinion and the courts themselves. In 2022, the Supreme Court of Texas ruled in favor of Texas Central in a 5-3 opinion. With this, they clarified that Texas Central has eminent domain authority on the land necessary to build the rail.

Texas High Speed Rail Map 2024

Recent Updates

In 2022, CEO Carlos Aguilar stepped down and was succeeded by Michael Bui.
In July 2022, the Supreme Court of Texas ruled that it could use eminent domain to acquire land.
In May 2023, Michael Bui testified in front of Texas lawmakers in opposition of a bill aimed to require additional transparency regarding high speed rail projects.
In August 2023, Amtrak and Texas Central announced they are “seeking opportunities to advance planning and analysis work associated with the proposed Dallas-Houston high-speed rail project”.
In April 2024 at the 2024 Southwestern Rail Conference, Andy Byford, VP of High Speed Rail Development for Amtrak said that putting together a successful funding package could take about a year.
If that funding package is successful, then a launch could be expected in the early 2030s.

What happens next?

We don’t know. Amtrak noted that they’re inheriting the program and the future is very much a moving target.
Funding hasn’t been approved. The rail project is still a question mark, and is relying on changing public and government opinion regarding rail travel.
Brightline has had recent success in Florida from Orlando to West Palm Beach.
California High Speed Rail has had recent momentum with Phase 1 of their high-speed rail project.
Brightline West is expected to launch from Rancho Cucamonga to Las Vegas in 2028.

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