Texas Bullet Train: A Step Closer to Reality

Texas’ ambitious bullet train proposal which could run between Dallas and Houston in 90 minutes took one step closer to reality with the selection of global engineering giant Bechtel as manager of the $12 billion project.

Texas Bullet Train At A Glance

Project Details: A plan to build a high-speed train that connects Dallas and Houston would be the first rail of its kind in the United States, with trains traveling up to 205 miles per hour and offering commuters with comfort and high connectivity during their trip.

Key Players: Texas Central Partners, Fluor Enterprises, The Lane Contruction Corp., WSP

Project Cost: $12 billion

Benefits: Travel time between the two cities will be shortened by 2 hours; traffic snarls and congestion along Interstate 45 will be mitigated.

Project developers Texas Central Partners on Wednesday said Bechtel would support the project as it progresses from development to implementation.

“The addition of Bechtel, with its experience in train and mega-infrastructure project experience, is another sign of the expertise this project is attracting and leveraging,” Texas Central CEO Carlos Aguilar said in a prepared statement.

texas rail

The project would be the first rail of its kind in the United States, with trains traveling up to 205 miles per hour and offering commuters with comfort and high connectivity during their trip.

Its $12 billion price tag entails the building of tracks, viaducts, power substations and three passenger stations in the two cities and a halfway point, in Brazos Valley, home to Texas A&M University, College Station. The project is expected to create 10,000 direct jobs each year during construction. It would be supported entirely by investors, rather than government funding or tax dollars.

Bechtel, an US company with offices in Houston and about 2,000 employees in Texas, has delivered complex, heavy civil projects for more than 100 years. It would be an experienced partner of Texas Central, having completed more than 300 major train and subway projects, including the Channel Tunnel High Speed 1, Crossrail in London, Riyadh Metro and Dulles Corridor Metrorail in the Washington, D.C., area.

“We look forward to using our international high-speed train experience to progress this transformative project in the United States,” Scott Osborne, Bechtel’s infrastructure general manager for the Americas, said. “The high-speed connection between Houston and North Texas will begin a new era of travel and convenience for riders.”

Texas Central also has teamed up with Amtrak up to offer bullet train tickets through Amtrak’s reservation system. The partnership also will allow Texas Central to access other Amtrak services, including training and marketing and sales offerings, and the two organizations could collaborate on frequent travel programs.

In return, Texas Central will offer transfer service between its bullet train stations and Amtrak’s stations in Dallas and Houston.

Amtrak has not operated service between the two cities since 1995, and Stephen Gardner, Amtrak’s executive vice president, called the route “one of the most significant gaps in Amtrak’s route structure.”

Today, commuters mostly drive between Dallas and Houston through Interstate 45. Although flights are relatively quick, getting to and from the airport tacks on additional time.

The Texas high-speed train would rely on Japan’s Shinkansen system, which operates between Osaka and Tokyo, and other parts of Japan – India is slated to build the system as well. The train is able to achieve speeds over 200 miles per hour.

tokyo rail
The Harajuku bullet train station in Tokyo, Japan.

Texas Central’s partnerships follow the selection of Fluor Enterprises and The Lane Construction Corp. to assist on the design and construction process, with support from services company WSP which will focus on engineering, cost estimating and scheduling.

They are being guided by the Federal Railroad Administration’s recently released Draft Environmental Impact Statement. The draft EIS outlined a single, preferred route between North Texas and Houston. It identified passenger station locations and assessed the impact of the train system’s design and construction on people and the environment.

The document said the train would alleviate the strain on Texas’ transportation infrastructure and concluded the project “is needed to accommodate growing demand.”  The FRA will complete a final environmental review that will help determine the project’s timeline and route before construction begins.

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