Commuters between Dallas and Houston could have a less expensive, more convenient alternative to flying by 2025.
The company behind a proposed 90-minute bullet train, Texas Central Partners, is waiting on a finalized environmental impact statement and record of decision from the Federal Railroad Administration. With a nod from the FRA, construction on the train—the first of its kind in the U.S.—will hopefully begin this year, Vice President of External Affairs David Arbuckle said at a Jan. 16 Growth & Mobility Luncheon hosted by the Richardson Chamber of Commerce.
So far funding for the train, estimated to cost between $12 billion and $15 billion, has come from private investments, Arbuckle said. A bill passed by the Texas Legislature said no state money can be used to pay for the train; however, Arbuckle said Texas Central can coordinate with the Texas Department of Transportation to make the train a reality.
Texas Central is paying above market value to acquire the land needed along the proposed 240-mile route, which would connect North Houston to downtown Dallas and include one stop near Texas A&M University.
"We will preserve more farmland than [expanding] I-45 would, and we will do it safer, faster and more reliably for all Texans," he said.
Cities, including Richardson, have rallied about the project, which officials said could generate significant economic development and job growth. Ten-thousand workers making between $42,000-$80,000 a year would be needed for construction, and if the train is built, Arbuckle said the train would create another 1,576 jobs.
The project is also expected to increase assessment values by between $71.4 million and $161.1 million for properties within a half-mile of stations. Up to $7 billion in tax revenue is expected by 2040, according to the draft environmental impact study.
To compete with airlines, Arbuckle said train tickets will cost slightly less than airfare. Transportation Security Administration guidelines also allow for passive security, meaning extensive security screenings and checkpoints will not be required.
Still, some counties have expressed opposition against the train, Arbuckle said. Without a private company behind the project, Arbuckle said the state may eventually be forced to build the train itself.
"This is the future," he said. "If you know anything about transportation in Texas, you know that we don't have enough money for the transportation needs we already have."