Texas Central, Amtrak reach agreement for $16.5 billion bullet train services

Texas Central and Amtrak announced an agreement between the two companies Friday, May 4.

Texas Central and Amtrak announced an agreement between the two companies Friday, May 4.

Texas Central and Amtrak announced Friday that the two companies have reached an agreement offering through-ticketing and transfer services for passengers traveling between Amtrak and Texas Central stations.

The agreement comes after Texas Central announced earlier this week it selected engineering and management company Bechtel to act as project manager for the proposed high-speed train route between Houston and Dallas. Bechtel will help Texas Central manage the high-speed train project—colloquially called the Texas Bullet Train—as it moves from development to implementation, according to a May 2 news release.

Texas Central, a private company, plans to construct a 240-mile high-speed rail route from Houston to Dallas. When completed, the multibillion-dollar route will provide riders a 90-minute trip between the two cities, traveling at speeds of up to 200 miles per hour.

The agreement between Texas Central and Amtrak will allow passengers to use Amtrak's reservation system to purchase tickets for travel on both the high-speed rail and Amtrak's national routes, according to a statement from Texas Central. Additionally, Texas Central will offer a transfer service for riders seeking connections between Amtrak passenger stations and high-speed rail stations in Dallas and Houston. Amtrak's training, markets and sales capabilities are also available to Texas Central as part of the agreement.

"This agreement is another important step in the progress of the Texas Bullet Train," Texas Central President Tim Keith said in a statement. "It gives both local and interstate travelers more options and ease of travel not previously available by intercity passenger trains in Texas.'

As Amtrak has not operated service between Dallas and Houston since 1995, Texas Central's high-speed route and agreement with Amtrak will help facilitate interstate train travel, according to a statement.

"Amtrak supports the development of high-speed train service throughout the United States as part of a national passenger rail system, capable of meeting the nation's transportation needs," said Stephen Gardner, Amtrak's executive vice president and chief commercial officer, in a statement. "When Texas Central's high-speed line begins operation, the joint ticketing arrangement will benefit Amtrak customers who currently cannot connect by train between Texas' two largest markets. We welcome the opportunity to partner with the private sector to expand the reach of our national network."

The Federal Railroad Administration released a draft environmental impact statement in mid-December, which outlines the preferred route for the railway. The FRA is reviewing public comments received early this year on the DEIS before issuing a final environmental impact statement. Although the DEIS proposed three locations for the Houston station, Texas Central and Houston officials selected the Northwest Mall area in February as the preferred location for the Houston station—one of three proposed stations along the route. Stations are also proposed in Grimes County, located along Hwy. 30 just west of Hwy. 90, and Dallas, located near the I-30 and I-35 interchange.

According to a statement, Texas Central's high-speed train is expected to pour $36 billion into Texas' economy over the next 25 years by providing additional state and local tax revenue, creating 10,000 jobs during each year of construction and boosting development around the three proposed passenger stations.

"These agreements between Amtrak and Texas Central provide for a passenger-first coordination of services that will increase Houstonians' access to Amtrak's national system and maximize the national impact of the Texas Bullet Train," Harris County Judge Ed Emmett said in a statement.

Construction of the high-speed train, which would be privately funded, is estimated to cost $16.5 billion and begin in 2019, according to the DEIS.

By Ali Linan
Ali Linan began covering Georgetown for Community Impact Newspaper in 2018. Her reporting focuses on education and Williamson County. Ali hails from El Paso and graduated from Syracuse University in 2017.


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