April 19, 2024 - TRA Newswire -

While Andy Byford, Senior Vice-President of High-Speed Rail projects for Amtrak, says that it's not a done-deal yet and still faces hurdles, he says there is strong political support in North Texas and the Houston region for the Texas Central high-speed rail line between Dallas and the southern terminus. Byford says the business case is stronger than ever, post-Covid and the project makes huge economic sense.

Andy Byford's presentation from the Southwestern Rail Conference at the Hurst, Texas Conference Center this week is available in its entirety at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HgO324_3g6c.

"I'm not going to sugar coat it that not every one is in favor of the project," according to Byford,, "we have acquired some right of way and we still have a long way to go but the prize is worth it."

Funding still needs to be put together", according to the rail executive. "Projected ridership is very strong and that helps for capital investment in private markets and in the public sector." He believes the line would be strong for leisure travel. 

Amtrak is inheriting the project from Texas Central and they are questioning everything and relooking at everything, according to Byford. He estimates that it will take about a year to put a funding package together. 

If everything falls into place, Byford estimates the line could be operational in the early 2030's.

Byford also discussed Federal Railroad Administration Corridor Identification planning grants that were awarded to scope out conventional passenger rail service in several Texas travel corridors.

"It's not all about high-speed. At Amtrak and with other partners we are looking at all aspects of the Texas Triangle," he said. "With a massive increase in population we need to be taking action now in order to expand the rail offering. If we do nothing, then the existing roads, which are already clogged, will become intolerably clogged and the only option will be to keep widening roads."

Photo credit: Texas Rail Advocates