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Amtrak resurrects long-awaited plans for high-speed rail project in Texas: 'On the cusp of a high-speed rail revolution'

"Other city mayors and other city pairs will clamor for having something of their own."

"Other city mayors and other city pairs will clamor for having something of their own."

Photo Credit: iStock

A long-awaited high-speed railway in Texas that would connect Dallas and Houston is getting closer to becoming a reality.

As explained by Bloomberg last month, "Amtrak recently resurrected a long-planned high-speed rail project" that would link Texas' two largest metropolitan areas. A trip between the two cities typically takes "at least three and a half hours by car," but a train that can reach speeds exceeding 200 mph would cut that down to less than 90 minutes.

Andy Byford, Amtrak's senior vice president for high-speed rail development programs, told Bloomberg that he believes the United States is "on the cusp of a high-speed rail revolution" and added: "Suddenly, people are beginning to wake up to the fact that there is this alternative" to driving and flying.

The project would have immense benefits for the environment. Newsweek reported in April that the number of cars traveling on Interstate 45 would be reduced by 12,500 per day, and Amtrak measured that planet-warming pollution would decrease by over 100,000 tons per year.

Byford, who worked as the head of the New York City Transit Authority from 2018 to 2020, joined Amtrak in 2023 to help facilitate the company's high-speed projects. He added that the 240-mile stretch between Dallas and Houston, which includes a stop in the Brazos Valley to access Texas A&M University, would be ideal for a high-speed railway.

"It's the right distance apart. The topography is pretty straightforward. The potential ridership is huge," Byford said.

The plan for a high-speed railway between Dallas and Houston was originally conceived in 2009 by Texas Central through a partnership with Central Japan Railway Company. Bloomberg noted that "hundreds of millions of dollars" were raised over the next decade, but when Texas Central disbanded its board of directors and paused operations in 2022, the project was "presumed dead."

However, Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida and U.S. President Joe Biden met in April, and one of the items they discussed was the Texas high-speed railway. The project still faces hurdles, as Byford described it as a "north of $30 million" endeavor, and the Texas legislature isn't in favor of using state funds toward rail transportation.

"The private financing pieces would be a lot easier if Texas would just say, 'We support this project,'" said Rick Harnish, executive director of the High Speed Rail Alliance, an outside advocacy group.

Byford added that he believes other major cities will look to follow suit if the Texas railway is successful.

"When we get a true high-speed corridor up and running, and people experience what it's really like, other city mayors and other city pairs will clamor for having something of their own," he said.

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