A Texas-Sized DreamJul 26, 2017 ● By Aj Addae
Fortunately, the brilliant minds at Texas Central Partners, LLC (Texas Central), have the most innovative fix. According to their mission statement, Texas Central, headed by CEO Carlos F. Aguilar and president Tim Keith, is a private company that aims to “advance the economy, respect Texan values and keep Texas on track for future growth.” The team has dreamed up the Texas Bullet Train, an approximately 240-mile, high-speed rail line offering a travel time of under 90 minutes between Houston and Dallas/Fort Worth. The aspirations of the team at Texas Central lie in the pursuit of the Texas Bullet Train’s aiding the “super-commuter,” which, according to the team, is a commuter who travels to and from the Dallas/Fort Worth area and Houston more than once a week.
Additionally, with a station in Dallas, Houston and the Brazos Valley, the Texas Bullet Train not only benefits the commuters, but the overall community. “The Texas Bullet Train will link approximately half the state’s population by connecting its largest metropolitan powerhouses, North Texas and Houston, in less than 90 minutes, transporting people and ideas in a safer and more efficient way,” says Holly Reed, Texas Central’s managing director for external affairs.
The experience of the commute is described by the team as the “joy of the journey.” The journey is comprised of an eight-car train with a 400-passenger seating capacity, modeled after the Japanese “Tokaido Shinkansen” railway system, which, according to the team, is “the most reliable and comfortable high-speed train system in the world.” With a 50-plus-year history, this railway system has not had a single casualty. Arrival and departure from the station, as well as mandatory travel technicalities such as boarding and waiting times, will designate an overall average journey of three and a half hours, saving 60 minutes, compared to the average of commuting conventionally, all for a world-class rider experience. That is 70 minutes faster than commuting by car and 50 minutes faster than commuting by plane!
Similar to most North Texas passengers, Frisco residents in particular are afforded the luxury of shorter travel times to big-name destinations, such as NRG Stadium, by saving more than an hour flying and more than two hours driving, with a convenient travel to the Brazos Valley, which also serves students at Texas A&M University. “That does not even take into account passenger productivity while on the train. You decide how you spend your time on the train -- working, studying, sleeping, using high-speed Internet or other options,” Ms. Reed says. Ultimately, the team predicts the Texas Bullet Train to have an astounding 90 percent of the 16 million residents of the surrounding service areas save up to an hour of commuting, whether it is for a casual, short or long-distance venture.
On a larger scale, safety triumphs many elements of the team’s agenda, as the Texas Central Partners’ first and foremost concern is the security of those involved with the transportation and its surrounding areas. “The Texas Bullet Train will be the safest travel option in the world. It utilizes a system with a 52-year perfect safety record of no crashes or deaths due to accidents. This will have a strong impact, as riders will have the choice of the safety and productivity of the train over driving on the second deadliest highway in the country, Interstate 45,” Ms. Reed says. “Because the system is safe, reliable and less stressful, travelers have said they would make the trip more often, whether it is to visit family, come up for a Frisco RoughRiders or FC Dallas game or a business meeting,” she shares. The implementation of the high-speed rail model ensures maximum safety, as it is often regarded as the world’s safest way to travel in between cities. Texas Central has partnered with Central Japan Railway Company to provide support for the Texas Bullet Train. Many of the highly-acclaimed Central Japan Railway Company safety precautions will be implemented, such as the “track system,” a system dedicated to high-speed railways for the purpose of avoiding run-ins with motor vehicles with freight. Additional safety precautions include the “total system,” a system managing the infrastructure of overall communication design and Automatic Train Control, a signaling technology system for guaranteed safety.
Regarding the Bullet’s environmental footprint, the team at Texas Central reports that the railway will have a smaller environmental footprint than a consistently expanding multi-lane interstate.
The project is, overall, a private venture, with private investors. The team, in fact, believes the privacy of financing the project revolutionizes the entire landscape of it. Public sponsorship of the railway is one of the many defining factors that makes this railway different from any other forms of transportation in the region. Since the funds are led by private investors, instead of public funds, the railway is built purely on passion, ingenuity and a market-led approach. Every city that is physically impacted by the Texas Bullet Train will reap the benefits of viaducts for elevation, jobs for construction and maintenance and more. Additionally, land access for the railway will be respectful of landowners’ rights to their own preserved property. Plenty of landowners impacted by the railway have testified that Texas Central land agents have remained respectful, honest and resourceful with their proposals regarding land use and design.
Since the Texas Legislature regular session has wrapped, Texas Central will undoubtedly be announcing new progress with their project in the coming months. Senate bills 977 and 975 will become law, supporting fiscal conservatism and safety. Moving forward, Texas Central will be working with the Department of Homeland Security, the Transportation Security Administration, the Federal Railroad Administration, the Texas Department of Public Safety and other government and law enforcement agencies to move the system’s safety and security plan along.
Ultimately, Texas Central has embarked on an incredibly hefty pursuit with one idea that has further manifested into one large, ambitious reality. According to the team, the long-lasting effects of the railway include approximately $2.5 million paid in taxes to state counties and schools, 1,000 permanent jobs when operational, three stations in the metroplex, one railway and zero hassle. Frisco residents can expect to see an increase of commuting options to and from the Dallas/Fort Worth metroplex, as well as an overall rise in safety on interstate highways in the area, as the railway will ensure travel free of cars, trucks, 18-wheelers and motorcycles. “The Texas Bullet Train will move the equivalent of 16 lanes of highway traffic on a two-lane railway. And, it can move more people within the same footprint as Texas population grows,” Ms. Reed says. The Federal Railroad Administration’s Draft Environmental Impact Statement is scheduled to be released later this year. Once this milestone is reached, the team will soon follow with construction. With a goal the size of Texas and a drive for success, Texas Central is opening doors for a grand ride across Texas soil, backed by grand momentum.