September 13, 2023 - TRA Newswire -

Almost 200 opponents of the Dallas-Houston high-speed rail project met at the Truman Kimbro Convention Center in Madisonville Monday night and were updated on the latest developments by several rural elected leaders.

The meeting was called on behalf of Texans Against High-Speed Rail, a group of property owners and rural leaders that don't want to see the 240-mile high-speed line built. The project would give motorists and airline passengers a 90 minute trip from Dallas to Houston and relieve traffic on I-45, a route described as the deadliest highway in Texas

A recent announcement that Amtrak may be joining forces with the project's company, Texas Central Railway, did not sit well with Madison County Judge Clark Osborn. He called for a pause on the project and questioned the financial viability of it. 

Last year Texas Central won a long drawn-out court battle when the Supreme Court of Texas affirmed that the railroad has eminent domain rights for the project and could proceed. Texas Central has been silent since last fall and its new CEO, Michael Bui, has not issued any updates. 

Rural elected leaders continued to speculate that Texans would be liable for the cost of the project and that the 100 foot wide easement needed for the double track rail line "would cut counties in half", according to Osborn.  

Amtrak Senior Vice-President of High-Speed Rail Development Andy Byford previously said that the Dallas to Houston corridor is a compelling proposition with great potential.  “We believe many of the country’s biggest and fastest-growing metropolitan areas, like Houston and Dallas, deserve more high quality high-speed, intercity rail service and we are proud to bring our experience to evaluate this potential project and explore opportunities with Texas Central so the state can meet its full transportation needs.”

Both Amtrak and Texas Central are looking at several federal rail programs thanks to the Bi-Partisan Infrastructure Law that Congress passed two years ago. In 2016 Texas Central struck a deal with Amtrak to use the national carrier's ticketing system once trains are operating as well as other support services. A passenger boarding a Texas Central train at its mid-point station between College Station and Huntsville could buy a rail ticket to take themselves anywhere Amtrak operates around the country. 

Texas Central CEO Bui, on the recent announcement of the potential joining of arms with Amtrak said “We appreciate Amtrak’s continued collaboration and look forward to continuing to explore how we can partner in the development of this important project.”

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