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Mayors of Houston, Dallas, and Fort Worth announce 200mph “bullet train”

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Press conference in rotunda of Houston City Hall to announce plans for high-speed rail March 27 2014
Press conference in rotunda of Houston City Hall to announce plans for high-speed rail March 27 2014
Marc Pembroke
 l to r Fort Worth Mayor Betsy Price, Houston Mayor Annise Parker, Dallas Mayor  Mike Rawlings
photo by Marc Pembroke

At a press conference in the rotunda of Houston City Hall on Thursday, Mar 27, Mayor Annise Parker was joined by Mayor Mike Rawlings of Dallas and Mayor Betsy Price of Fort Worth along with executes of Texas Central Railway to announce plans for a high speed rail line in 2016. The so-called “bullet train” is capable of speeds up to 200 miles per hour, making it possible to go from Houston to Dallas in 90 minutes.

Mayor Parker invited Houstonians to imagine the year was 2021, and there was a choice of driving, flying, or taking a high-speed train from downtown Houston to downtown Dallas-Fort Worth. Instead of fighting traffic and driving for 6 hours, the time could spent relaxing or working on a portable computer.

Mayor Mike Rawlings of Dallas expressed his support, noting the strong commercial ties between the Houston and Dallas metropolitan areas, and the prospects for job growth that could be encouraged with the availability of the high-speed line.

Mayor Betsy Price of Fort Worth also expressed her complete support of the plan. “This is an exciting time. The 4th largest metropolitan region and the 5th connecting largest metropolitan region... We are not going to be able to pour enough concrete to accommodate growth.”

High-speed trains have been operating for more than 40 years in Japan, Europe, and China. The mayors as well as many of the executives have ridden them first-hand in their travels.

The plan is to use the cutting-edge technology for the Japanese N700-I bullet train system which has a perfect safety record of 50 years would be primarily funded by Texas Central High Speed Railway from private sources. TCR will work closely with JR Central, the leader in high-speed rail which developed the Tokyo - Shinkansen line. However, the link from Dallas to Fort Worth would be funded by a public private partnership. As Mayor Price explained, TexDot has approved a 7-member committee to study the plans for the western side of the metroplex. TCR and its partners studied 97 possible sites in the USA before selecting Houston-to Dallas-Fort Worth as the most viable commercial market. Houston and Dallas are the fastest growing economies in the USA. Already, at least 50,000 “super-commuters” travel between the two areas at least once a week. Both metropolitan regions are experiencing population growth and job growth. Texas also has the advantage of a favorable topography and many existing rights of way owned by utility and rail lines.

Mayors Parker and Rawlings explained in answer to jounralists questions that the goal would be to join the downtown areas of each city, so that commuters could easily make the transition from the high-speed line to the metropolitan light rail system. She also introduced former Judge Robert Eckels, President of Texas Central High-speed Railway, He stated: “Texas Central Railway extends its deepest thanks to Mayors Annise Parker of Houston, Mike Rawlings of Dallas and Betsy Price of Fort Worth for their support of our market-led, high-speed rail route between Houston and Dallas-Fort Worth. They understand the positive economic impacts of this project and the benefits it will have for their citizens. We thank Mayor Parker, Mayor Rawlings and Mayor Price for their leadership, and we look forward to working with the cities of Houston, Dallas and Fort Worth to make high-speed rail a transportation solution for all Texans.”

Following the formal portion of the press conference, Judge Eckels fielded many of the detailed questions about costs, timing, and possible routes.

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