February 7, 2022 - David Peter Alan, Contributing Editor - Railway Age -
Since 2016, Texas landowner James Frederick Miles and the companies that are planning the Texas Central high-speed-rail line between Dallas and the edge of Houston have been engaged in a battle that has worked its way to the top of the court system in the Lone Star State: the Texas Supreme Court. The briefs have been submitted and oral argument was held on Jan. 11. Now it’s time to wait for the Court’s opinion, which will essentially determine whether or not the proposed line will actually be built. Beyond that, the case could create an atmosphere that will be either friendly or hostile to new railroad starts within and beyond Texas, whether those starts are high-speed or conventional rail lines.
The record in this case is voluminous, and reviewing it was an arduous task. Boiled down to its most basic expression, the issue is whether or not an entity claiming to be a “railroad company” has the authority to condemn land (or, at least, an easement across that land) to build the railroad that it intends to operate.