The mayors of Dallas, Fort Worth and Houston voiced their support this morning for the proposed high-speed rail line from North Texas to Houston.
KERA explored the proposed line in this story last fall. Texas Central Railway wants to build a Dallas-to-Houston corridor for a 200-mph electric train, like the ones that operate in Japan. It would be faster than any train operating in the United States. The bullet train could get from Dallas to Houston in about 90 minutes. Passengers could start boarding in seven years.
Houston Mayor Annise Parker, Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings and Fort Worth Mayor Betsy Price appeared at a joint press conference in Houston.
What the mayors say
“This innovative project is a game changer for transportation between the two engines that drive job creation throughout Texas,” Rawlings said in a statement. “Not only will high-speed rail significantly reduce travel times and traffic congestion for Dallas and Houston area residents, but it will also create new, high-paying jobs and stimulate economic growth.”
Price said in a statement: “Thanks to the leadership of our friends at Texas Central Railway, my fellow mayors, and our state and federal partners, we have a remarkable opportunity to change the way we travel and connect our cities. We’re excited about this concept, and we look forward to working closely with our partners to make it a reality for our citizens and businesses.”
Parker said in a statement: “With Houston and Dallas-Fort Worth being two of the largest and fastest growing metropolitan areas in America, we are both faced with many of the same challenges: growing traffic congestion, ever-increasing commutes and limited public transportation dollars from the state. It is imperative that we give our residents an innovative alternative. If successful, Houstonians will have a reliable, private alternative that will help alleviate traffic congestion and drastically reduce travel times.”
A city of Houston press release states that nearly 50,000 Texans travel back and forth between Houston and Dallas-Fort Worth more than once a week on Interstate 45 each day. Traveling between the two cities takes about four hours – Texas Department of Transportation says the commute is expected to increase to close to seven hours by 2035.
More on the rail line
High-speed rail advocates in Texas believe the private project could jump-start a network of high-speed routes across the state. The U.S. Department of Transportation is already talking with mayors in Austin and San Antonio about connecting their cities.
The Texas Department of Transportation is using federal money to study a route that would stretch from Oklahoma City through Central Texas to the Rio Grande Valley.
Texas Central’s president, Robert Eckels, told KERA last fall that Dallas-to-Houston tickets would cost about 80 percent of a plane ticket. He claims the non-stop bullet train would be more reliable and convenient than flying or driving.
“Short-haul flights have gotten to be more and more a hassle,” Eckels told KERA in an interview last fall. “You have to go through security and weather delays. … Our trains will be running within one minute of scheduled performance. They’re not delayed by weather. There’s no magnetometer or X-ray machine to go through."
Texas Department of Transportation has been holding public meetings around the state to hear from people about a study looking at the feasibility of high-speed rail projects between Oklahoma City and South Texas.
More from KERA
This video from Texas Central Railway updates plans for the rail line:
Others react to the mayors’ support
Judge Robert Eckels, President Texas Central Railway: “Texas Central Railway extends its deepest thanks to Mayors Annise Parker of Houston, Mike Rawlings of Dallas and Betsy Price of Fort Worth for their support of our market-led, high-speed rail route between Houston and Dallas-Fort Worth. They understand the positive economic impacts of this project and the benefits it will have for their citizens.”
Tom Schieffer, Senior Advisor, Texas Central Railway: “This is a transformational project for our state and I applaud their visionary leadership. A high-speed railway from Houston to Dallas-Fort Worth will bring economic opportunities and another form of transportation to Texans looking for relief from congested roadways. We are appreciative that Mayor Parker, Mayor Rawlings and Mayor Price recognize the benefits of high-speed rail for the entire state of Texas and we are grateful to have their support.”
James C. Oberwetter, president and CEO, Dallas Regional Chamber: “A high speed rail as an alternative method of transportation between Dallas and Houston is a win for Texas. This private market-led initiative will make a positive impact on economic development throughout the state, creating numerous jobs and providing a forward-looking solution for transportation issues ahead of the curve.”
Bob Harvey, president and CEO, Greater Houston Partnership: "High-speed rail between Houston and Dallas is an example of an innovative project we need to explore as we take a multi-modal approach to improving our state's transportation infrastructure. We look forward to working with Texas Central Railway, which is leading this privately-funded effort, to engage our community partners in this discussion as the project progresses."