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Texas Central Receives Fed Approval To Move Ahead With Houston-Dallas Bullet Train

A rendering of the Dallas station for the Texas Central Railroad, which will run between Houston and Dallas.

Texas Central Railroad has received two key federal approvals that will allow the Houston-Dallas Bullet Train project to move closer to reality than any other proposed high-speed rail system in the country.

The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Railroad Administration released the final Rule of Particular Applicability for the project, which provides a regulatory framework that will govern the practices and safety standards of the rail system.

The FRA also released the Record of Decision for the project, which ends the environmental review process that began in 2014. The Record of Decision also formally selects the alignment that Texas Central Railroad will follow between Dallas and Houston.

The proposed $20B high-speed rail system will replicate the Japanese Tokaido Shinkasen, as operated by the Central Japan Railway Co. If built, the train will be capable of operating at speeds in excess of 200 miles per hour and will move passengers between Dallas and Houston in less than 90 minutes. Texas Central Railroad is a subsidiary of Texas Central, the private railroad company overseeing the project.

“Today’s announcement from Texas Central means that this landmark project is closer than ever to breaking ground. The construction of high-speed rail will have a generational impact, creating thousands of jobs right here in Houston and injecting billions of dollars into our local businesses,” Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner said in a statement.

The project has generated significant controversy since its inception. Private landowners and state officials have pushed back on the project, claiming that Texas Central does not have the financial resources or expertise to build the railroad. Landowners with holdings along the proposed route of the railroad also say that it could devalue their properties.

Texas Central has control over 600 parcels of land needed for the project, as well as control of the three station sites in Dallas, Houston and the Brazos Valley, the company said. The proposed Houston station is the site of the now-defunct Northwest Mall, near the interchange of Highway 290 and the 610 Loop.

The original timeline of the project suggested that construction would begin in 2020, taking between five and six years to reach completion.

“Texas Central is ready to build and will proceed to construction as soon as possible to contribute to the nation’s COVID-19 recovery,” the company said.