French National Rail Company:
Of course, SNCF, the state-owned and heavily subsidized (at the tune of over $16 Bn/year) French National Railway would declare they are against competition and block the world’s best high-speed train technology from coming to the U.S. market. Contrary to the European model, railroads in Texas are privately-owned and operated, and meet the needs of the market, not top-down government plans. Rather than spend the amount of time and resources that Texas Central has invested over many years, the French State Railway is one of many competitors that would prefer to skip to the front of the line and thwart Texas Central’s progress.
Consistent with their operations in Europe, the French state-owned National Railway admits that their plans would require significant public-sector investment, including ongoing operational subsidies. This approach ignores Texas law and public sentiment and provides an ill-informed and thinly-veiled attempt to appeal to the US government to eliminate their competition introducing high-speed train service in the Houston-to-North Texas market.
While under investigation at home for increasing debt burden to the state, failed efficiency and safety results (Spinetta Report, Feb 15, 2018), the French National Railway is seeking to find a home for its trains in Texas. They don’t like competing with the Shinkansen system planned for Texas because of its safety design that has resulted in zero accidents or fatalities in over 53 years of operation. In fact in 2009, validating Texas Central’s current approach, SNCF delivered a proposal to Request for Expressions of Interest, saying verbatim on page 11:
“…high-speed lines must be designed exclusively for high-speed trains for the following reasons: additional safety constraints, operating challenges in optimizing timetables, extra costs of cab signaling equipment for conventional infrastructure and rolling stock, reduced allowances on super-elevation and gradients, and shallower track curves. Meeting these requirements is best done by placing HSR on separate dedicated tracks which prohibit mixed traffic. Segregation of high-speed service enables operators to achieve higher average speeds and limits the need for additional track to allow for passing…. This also lessens the causes of delays and leads to dramatic improvements in train punctuality and the reliability of scheduled services.”
Now, for their own self-interests reasons alone, they blast the Texas Bullet Train approach, disregarding their own principles for high-speed trains. It is the safety program and culture that has made the system being deployed in Texas the best in class for the world. To be clear, Texas Central will not compromise safety in any way.
Connecting the Houston and North Texas area creates a community of more than 14M people and an annual $998 billion GDP– and growing. (Mexico’s GDP is projected to be $987 billion this year.) That is exactly what drew Texas Central to this market and why we are designing a high-speed train system to connect these two economic engines with thousands of travelers in between every day.”
As the saying goes, “People who say it cannot be done should not interrupt those who are doing it”.