The private company planning high-speed rail service between Dallas and Houston has narrowed its choices to a single corridor.
“We’re moving from concept to development,” said Tim Keith, CEO of Texas Central Partners.
Speaking at an Aug. 25 meeting of the North Central Commission in Irving, Keith said the route will follow existing electrical transmission lines and rights of way to ensure minimal disruption for homeowners and infrastructure.
The route is expected to whisk riders between Dallas and Houston in 90 minutes.
Exact fares were not specified, but Keith said that business travelers and college students alike can expect affordable ticket prices on the trains. Passengers can expect roomy rail cars with two-by-two seating comparable to first-class airplane seats.
Modeled after the N700-1 bullet trains in Japan, the Texas system would revolutionize intrastate travel.
“This is a big idea. We’re trying to transform Texas,” Keith said.
He also noted that the Japanese bullet trains have logged no fatalities in 50 years of operation.
The project has made headlines and courted critics.
“We’ve already raised $75 million in capital from Texans investing in the future of Texas,” said Keith. He said the money will fund economic research, federal reviews and other project preparation. That’s nothing compared with the $10 billion to $12 billion estimated construction cost, which is expected to come solely from private funding. Keith said the money will come from Japanese investors and pension fund managers.
“We believe we’ll capitalize this project successfully,” he said.
Construction would begin in 2017, the same year that an environmental impact study of a Dallas-Fort Worth route is expected to be completed.
“There is a planned line from Fort Worth to Dallas through Arlington. We’re excited about that,” Keith said.
The 240-mile Dallas-Houston route would begin serving passengers in 2021. Keith acknowledged that many property owners along the proposed route have opposed the plan. A group calling itself Texans Against High Speed Rail have publicly criticized the plan, citing what they consider its disruption to landowners and the current way of life along the route.
“We plan to meet with every landowner face-to-face in a transparent fashion. Once we finish approvals, including the EIR [environmental impact report], and operating rules, we’ll begin construction,” Keith said.
The rail project itself prompted the new set of operating rules since no rules currently exist for trains traveling at 200 mph or faster in the United States.