Texas high-speed train developers, Amtrak reach agreement on transfer, other services

Texas Central, developers of Texas’ high-speed train, have forged an agreement with Amtrak, allowing passengers to use Amtrak’s reservation system to buy tickets for through travel on both the Texas Bullet Train and Amtrak’s national routes.

Texas Central will offer a transfer service connecting riders between Amtrak passenger stations and the high-speed train stations in Dallas and Houston. The agreement also will make other Amtrak services, such as training, marketing and sales capabilities, available to Texas Central.

Tim Keith, Texas Central’s president, said it has been working with Amtrak and others on a commercial basis to expand opportunities to attract, assist and serve passengers on the 200 mph North Texas-to-Houston line.

“This agreement is another important step in the progress of the Texas Bullet Train,” Keith said. “It gives both local and interstate travelers more options and ease of travel not previously available by intercity passenger trains in Texas.”

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Stephen Gardner, Amtrak’s executive vice president and chief commercial officer, said one of the most significant gaps in Amtrak’s route structure involves the country’s 4th and 5th largest economies and Texas’ largest metro areas, North Texas and Houston. The Texas Bullet Train will provide a direct connection between Amtrak routes serving the two commercial hubs, helping to facilitate interstate train travel.

“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,” Gardner said. “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 agreement comes as the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) works to complete a final environmental study of the train’s 240-mile route. The FRA issued its Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) Dec. 15, saying the train will alleviate strains on Texas’ infrastructure. The FRA now is reviewing public comments it received on the draft in meetings from January to March this year.