02/07/17 12:45pm

HOUSTON-TO-DALLAS BULLET TRAIN PUTTING THE BRAKES ON ALL THOSE LAWSUITS Map of Proposed Route of Proposed Texas Central RailwayThe company planning to build a bullet train between Houston and Dallas appears to be altering the legal strategy it had been using to try to get landowners to allow crews on their land to survey property along the proposed 240-mile route. Texas Tribune reporter Brandon Formby says Texas Central Partners has withdrawn 17 lawsuits across the state (including one in Harris County that had a trial scheduled for July) and settled 21 others that had sought court-ordered access. Officials of the private company now say they will seek an “open dialogue” with property owners about letting crews in. The company tells Formby it has already reached land-purchase options with more than 3,000 landowners, accounting for 30 percent of the total number of parcels it needs, and 50 percent in the 2 counties along the route adjacent to Harris County: Grimes and Waller. The company announced last week that the train is now expected to begin operating in 2023. [Texas Tribune; Houston Business Journal; previously on SwamplotMap of proposed high-speed rail routes: Texas Central Railway

01/25/17 10:15am

HOUSTON-DALLAS BULLET TRAIN SHOWS UP ON TRUMP INFRASTRUCTURE PROJECT LIST Proposed High Speed Rail Routes MapThe already-in-lawsuit-phase Dallas-to-Houston high-speed rail project is number 13 on a list of 50 “Emergency & National Security Projects” floated around by the Trump transition folks, according to a report from McClatchy and the Kansas City Star (which posted the document online this week). The list looks closely related to one sent out by the team to the National Governor’s Association late last year, soliciting other ideas for projects that a hypothetical future investment program might target for funding; the bullet train project shows up only on the more detailed version of the list (which could be just another draft). Both versions of the list include the Cotton Belt Line commuter rail project, which would connect Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport to Plano. [McClatchyDC via Texas Tribune; previously on SwamplotMap of proposed high-speed rail routes: Texas Central

12/27/16 4:15pm

COMMENT OF THE DAY: WHY ISN’T LONG AND SKINNY ALWAYS OUT OF STYLE? Train“Maybe it is just me, but I feel like the folks that are for the high speed rail are the same people that are against the Dakota pipeline. The HSR will undoubtedly have large environmental concerns for the state.” [Bocepheus, commenting on High Speed Rail Case Heads to Trial] Illustration: Lulu

12/21/16 5:15pm

HIGH SPEED RAIL CASE HEADS TO TRIAL Proposed High Speed Rail Routes MapA trial has been set for July 3rd for the case over the would-be bullet train between Houston and Dallas, Kyle Hagerty reports today. Judge Halbach denied bullet train developer Texas Central a preliminary injunction it had requested, which would have forced some unenthused landowners along the proposed rail route to allow the company surveying access to their properties. The surveying is only one of the hangups currently facing the project; in addition to delays on the project’s environmental impact studies, Hagerty writes that the rail company “admitted to having less than 1 percent of funding needed for the project,” and notes that the estimated completion date has been scooted back from 2021 to 2022. [Houston BisNow; previously on Swamplot] Map of proposed high speed rail routes: Texas Central

08/05/16 1:15pm

COMMENT OF THE DAY: THE HIGH-SPEED RAIL BUBBA RESCUE SCENARIO Bullet Train Drawing“HSR going bankrupt isn’t the worst deal around. Consider: TCR takes a bunch of Japanese + hedge fund money, fails to pay off capital costs, goes into receivership, forfeits the right-of-way to the state for failure to pay back taxes, TxDOT leases right-of-way for 99 years to a consortium of investors led by Tilman Fertitta, after which all trains have cocktails and coconut shrimp served on board. I wouldn’t complain.” [Purple City, commenting on Land Purchases Beginning Along Proposed Houston-to-Dallas Bullet Train Route]

08/02/16 11:45am

LAND PURCHASES BEGINNING ALONG PROPOSED HOUSTON-TO-DALLAS BULLET TRAIN ROUTE Tokaido Shinkansen Tokyo Osaka LineTexas Central Railway’s CEO tells Realty News Report’s Ralph Bivins that owners of some properties in the projected path of the planned Houston-to-Dallas 200mph rail line have already agreed to sell their land to the company, which is hoping to get started on construction of the 90-minute route next year. Tim B. Keith says he’s “encouraged with the progress” of what he refers to as the project’s “voluntary land purchase program.” He notes that “Texas’ Constitution and state statutes have long granted eminent domain authority to railroads such as Texas Central, as well as pipeline companies, electric power companies and other industries,” but calls eminent domain “a last resort.” The line’s Houston station is now planned for “the area along the 610 Loop between 290 and I-10″ after a Federal Railroad Administration review rejected the idea of a Downtown stop because of projected high costs and environmental impacts. [Realty News Report; Houston Public Media; previously on Swamplot] Photo of Tokaido Shinkansen Tokyo-Osaka line: Texas Central Railway  

05/26/16 2:30pm

COMMENT OF THE DAY: LINGERING FEARS OF BEING GRAZED BY A BULLET TRAIN Train“The railroad needs to make 2 major cases: first, that those tinkertoy power stanchions won’t be any uglier than the high-tension lines that are already there on most of their route; and more importantly, that the disturbance from passing trains won’t impair cattle production nearby. I seem to recall that ‘it’ll scare the cows’ was the final nail in the coffin of the previous Texas Triangle HSR attempt. Once they have official eminent domain authority, there will be no stopping this project.” [, commenting on Bullet Train Backers: Not Trying To Take Any Land Yet, Just Want To Know How Much We’d Owe You]

05/24/16 10:30am

BULLET TRAIN BACKERS: NOT TRYING TO TAKE ANY LAND YET, JUST WANT TO KNOW HOW MUCH WE’D OWE YOU Texas Central Proposed Alignment Overview MapTexas Central Railway is seeking approval from the federal Surface Transportation Board to start the ball rolling on eminent domain negotiations on land it would need to take to construct its planned high-speed line between Houston and Dallas, writes Eric Nicholson in the Dallas Observer this week. Granted, it’s not totally clear where all the needed land is yet, as the finalized route has yet to be confirmed or permitted. The company is nonetheless asking the board for permission to get a jump on what it purports is just an administrative aspect of the process: namely, negotiating land values of potentially condemned tracts with landowners. The company argues that this part doesn’t involve actually taking any land, and therefore doesn’t need the railroad agency’s approval. The company is trying to get going on acquisitions “as soon as possible” to meet an investor schedule requiring construction to start next year so service on the line can start in 2021. [Dallas Observer via Houston Press; previously on Swamplot] Map of proposed high-speed rail routes: Texas Central Railway 

10/17/12 5:50pm

Texas’s Department of Transportation has just announced the kickoff of a 2-year, $14 million study of options for new passenger rail service between the state’s “major metropolitan areas” and Oklahoma City. Funded by a grant from the Federal Railroad Administration, the Federal Highway Administration, the state of Oklahoma, the North Central Texas Council of Governments, and TxDOT itself, the study will compare options for enhancing existing Amtrak routes and building a new high-speed rail backbone through the state, as well as the possibility of public-private partnerships, the agency says. The proposed north-south route would connect San Antonio, Austin, and Dallas to its northern neighbor. (That follows the FRA’s longstanding designation of high-speed rail corridors; the federal agency’s proposed map of the South Central region is shown above.)

But what about, um, that other major metropolitan area nearby?

CONTINUE READING THIS STORY

07/16/09 10:39am

PICKING THE TEXAS T-BONE: NOT NUMBER ONE WITH THAT BULLET Texas may be way behind other states vying for chunks of the $8 billion in stimulus money the feds are handing out for high-speed rail projects, but it’s getting in line: “Texas is asking for $1.7 billion to speed development of a super-fast passenger train linking Dallas to Austin to San Antonio, and with a spur to Houston. Federal guidelines for the funds make it unlikely that such a big amount will be awarded to Texas, given how little preliminary work — such as environmental studies, feasibility reviews or right of way acquisition — has been done on the bullet train proposal. Still, TxDOT spokeswoman Karen Amacker said today, “it never hurts to ask,” and noted that the guidelines for the grants released in June are themselves in draft form. . . . [U.S. Secretary of Transportation Ray] LaHood said even states, like Texas, who have so far done little to advance high-speed passenger rail will be considered for the grants.” [Transportation Blog, via Off the Kuff]