February 12, 2019 - TRA Newswire -

The opponents of a planned high-speed rail project that would connect Dallas and Houston in 90 minutes found a sympathetic rural county judge who decided that the railroad is not a railroad and that Texas Central Railway could not gain access to property that is needed for a survey and possible purchase.

The rural opponents of the passenger rail line were estatic over the Leon county local judge's ruling but Texas Central Railway, the Dallas-based company, said that many of the claims have been exaggerated in regards to the ruling and would appeal.

"This rural judge's ruling boggles the mind," said Texas Rail Advocates President Peter LeCody. "Texas Central Railway has been under federal review with the Federal Railroad Administration and statewide with the Texas Department of Transportation's Rail Division. These folks are not selling vaccum cleaners, they are in the business of building a railroad."

Opponents have insisted that since the company does not operate as a railroad, owns no trains and has not laid a single piece of track that it is not eligible for the access. LeCody said that "what if the Leon county judge had a brand new pipeline company planning to dig or a brand new power company that was going to string a high-tension power line across the area. Would the judge say that since they didn't start digging in the ground or stringing a wire they were not a valid company? All of these entities are allowed property access under state law. I hope Texas Central appeals this ruling immediately. This is an ill-advised decision that hurts our business environment and would discourage anyone from bringing new railroads to Texas."

Meantime company officials at Texas Central said "we are moving ahead with all aspects of the train project. Texas has long allowed survey access by railroads like Texas Central, pipelines, electrical lines and other industries that provide for a public good and a strong economy." Railroads and other utilities are entitled to access to property to conduct surveys and acquire property via eminent domain.

A previous default decision in Harris county court indicated that Texas Central was indeed a railroad.