Billions of dollars in economic growth hangs in the balance as one landowner takes his case to the Texas Supreme Court later this month to try and stop Texas Central Railway from building their high-speed rail line between Dallas and Houston.
It's up to the Texas Supremes to decide if they want to hear landowner James Miles’ challenge to a May Appeals Court ruling finding that Texas Central qualifies as a railroad under Texas law. A week ago Miles petitioned the Texas Supreme Court to take on his case but, just like the U.S. Supreme Court, the state Court is free to decline.
Miles argument is based on a premise that since Texas Central hasn't constructed actual stations, laid track, purchased locomotives and passenger trains that the company is not a real railroad.
Even if Miles doesn’t think Texas Central is a railroad, the U.S. Surface Transportation Board decided that it is, and that Texas Central will be an important part of the Nation’s intercity passenger rail network once it’s operating. In addition, Texas Central has been working closely with the Federal Railroad Administration during the past decade to lay the groundwork for a safe and secure true high-speed operation, the first one of its kind to be built in the country. Trains would reach speeds of 200 miles per hour and cover the distance between Houston and Dallas in 90 minutes with one stop in the Brazos Valley.
Miles petition repeats a claim that would, in effect, have the Texas Supreme Court ignore Texas’ Code Construction Act. Three years ago the Texas Supremes decided how entities meet the test of being a common carrier but Miles' attorneys suggest that the Appeals Court went outside of the Code Construction Act, despite the precedent the Appeals Court cited in its interpretation.
Both DC-based Rail Passengers Association and Texas Rail Advocates continue to be dismayed to see this fight drag on, given the degree to which Texas Central is trying to work with landowners. "We have been talking for years about bringing a world class passenger rail system to link North Texas to the Texas Gulf Region, " according to Texas Rail Advocates President Peter LeCody. "Texas Central has been generous in their dealings with landowners and I understand it has been offering substantially more than TxDOT would if it needed land for an interstate highway. This project would involve some 10,000 good paying jobs to an economy that needs a shot in the arm."
(Links to Rail Passengers Association included in this post)