Who is Texas Central?
Texas Central is the company developing the Texas Bullet Train railroad project – a state-of-the-art high-speed passenger train system that will connect North Texas and Houston (two of the nation’s largest and fastest-growing economies) in less than 90 minutes, at speeds up to 200 mph, with one stop in the Brazos Valley. The Texas Central team has announced Fluor Corporation and Lane Construction are their preferred design build companies with WSP doing engineering services for the team. Texas Central leads these technical experts doing work on the project every day as the railroad gears up from hundreds of people to the expected 10,000 direct jobs each year during construction.
Is Texas Central a railroad company?
Yes. Texas Central is incorporated as a railroad with the Texas Secretary of State, and the Federal Railroad Administration has been working through the regulatory approvals and permitting process for the Texas Bullet Train since 2014. The FRA has only dedicated the time and resources to this process because Texas Central is a railroad.
ABOUT THE TEXAS BULLET TRAIN
What technology will the Texas Bullet Train utilize?
The Texas Bullet Train will be based on the safest high-speed train in the world. The N700-I Bullet total system is the international version of the Tokaido Shinkansen total system currently in operation between Tokyo and Osaka, Japan. In more than 53 years of operation, it has never had a crash and therefore no fatalities as a result. This international version will feature the core system – passenger train, overhead catenary, tracks, signaling – along with all of its corresponding maintenance and operations procedures to ensure that the system in the United States maintains a perfect safety record.
Why choose the N700-I system?
This is the safest mass transportation system in the world today. It has operated for over 53 years in Japan with a perfect record of zero passenger fatalities or injuries during train operations and an impeccable on-time performance record. In addition to its stellar safety profile, the Series N700 rolling stock operating between Tokyo and Osaka consumes 1/8th the amount of energy per seat and expends 1/12th of the carbon dioxide as a Boeing 777-200*. These passenger trainsets are also among the lightest of their class in production, making them especially well-suited for the soils of Texas. Finally, riders will appreciate the comfortable experience as a result of the space within the trainsets, which are the widest of any passenger trains.
Thanks to this amazing technology, Texans will soon be getting a safe, comfortable and reliable transportation alternative.
*Data from JRC, based on Tokyo-Osaka line.
How fast do the trains go?
Bullet Trains can travel smoothly and comfortably at speeds up to 205 mph. Train service in Texas will likely begin at 186 mph, which will allow for a total trip time of less than 90 minutes between Houston and Dallas. Subject to regulatory approval and market demands, maximum train speeds could be increased up to 205 mph.
How will I get around when I get to the station?
Stations will feature ample parking for personal vehicles and will fully integrate with local transportation options, including rental car services, ride share, taxis, etc., similar to an airport. While it’s too early to say exactly how that integration will work and what technologies will enable the seamless experience for our passengers, the Texas Bullet Train is committed to providing riders with an easy-to-use, technology-based, booking system that will allow travelers to arrange their trip from door step to door step.
How much will a ticket cost?
Ticket prices will be based on a variable pricing model, with consumer demand driving price fluctuations. Factors like how far in advance you purchase, what day, what time of day, which discounts you are eligible for, etc., will all influence the price. Furthermore, there may be different classes of service (think first class, business class, etc.) to offer price points for all travelers – regardless of budget. World class ridership studies have been done and continue to inform what travelers want to create a best-in-class experience.
More concisely: on the high end, tickets will be competitive with the cost of flying, and on the low end, they will be competitive with the cost of driving.
How can I get a ticket?
Once in operation, you will be able to purchase a ticket online or at any of the train stations, similar to the way you purchase an airline ticket.
How often will trains run?
Current plans call for trains to run every 30 minutes during peak hours and every hour during off-peak times, with 6 hours reserved each night for maintenance and inspection of the system.
How is this project different from past and current high-speed train projects?
This is the right train, being developed the right way and finally at the right time. Unlike other high-speed train projects in the US, the Texas Bullet Train is backed by entrepreneurial investors employing a market-led approach to infrastructure construction where every decision is driven by data. No state or federal grants will be used. Specifically, to contrast, the project in California is a public-owned project, while the Texas Bullet train is being developed as an investor-owned system. This investor-led approach to financing the project changes everything. It is the first project to put commercial success at the heart of the project focusing on ridership and the customer experience. It requires fiscal discipline and accountability for every decision made during the development of the project.
THE NORTH TEXAS-TO-HOUSTON ROUTE
How was the North Texas-to-Houston route selected?
The Bullet Train is in Texas on purpose – based on millions of dollars of research to determine the most commercially-successful route in the country. North Texas-to-Houston was identified following an evaluation of more than 90 city pair markets. Several more years of analysis and development have since been invested in the line.
Do you have a final route determined and the stops included in that route?
The Federal Railroad Administration(FRA) has spent years leading a multi-agency assessment of the numerous potential alternative routes between these regions. There has been progress made over the years to narrow the alternatives based on technical data from engineers, scientists and communities. On December 15, 2017, the FRA released its Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) on the project. Through this environmental review, the project’s final route was selected as the least impactful on the environment and communities.
To see the latest maps of potential routes, please click here.
To visit the Federal Railroad Administration’s website to learn more about this environmental review and provide public comment, please click here.
Will this extend to Austin/San Antonio?
Texas Central does not have plans to extend its line to cities beyond its proposed North Texas-to-Houston corridor. However, this project does create a backbone for possible future expansion into other cities.
Where will the stations be?
The passenger stations for the Texas Bullet Train will be located in northwest Houston, just south of Downtown Dallas and in the Roans Prairie area of Grimes County in the Brazos Valley – about equidistant between Bryan/College Station and Huntsville.
The passenger station in Dallas will be located in the Cedars Neighborhood, an area south of Interstate 30 from Downtown Dallas. This space is undergoing a remarkable transition from predominately light industrial and manufacturing facilities to a walkable neighborhood featuring repurposed and new-build mixed-use developments. This transition has been fueled in part by the neighborhood’s access to rail transit and the excitement of a future High-Speed Train station.
The introduction of the Texas Bullet Train to the Cedars will accelerate and enhance the growth of this previously underserved area of Dallas, creating additional opportunities for new residential, office and retail developments. As Dallas’ population continues to soar, this project will attract new residents to the area, encouraging the densification of the Cedars neighborhood and aiding the region’s highway congestion relief efforts.
The station serving downtown Dallas will provide easy interconnection with the North Texas multimodal transportation network including DART light rail.
Houston’s passenger station will be located in northwest Houston just outside 610 between Interstate 10/290. This area was recognized by the FRA as the location with the right combination of minimal environmental and community impact. This route allows the train to follow existing rights of way, while providing high-speed train passengers with easy, efficient roadway access and connectivity with planned transit improvements.
To serve the entire Houston market, the station will be located in the area which is surrounded by the Central Business District, the Medical Center, the Galleria, and the Energy Corridor. Studies show the center of the population base in Houston is north and west of the Central Business District.
High-speed train passengers will be able to connect seamlessly with other forms of transportation, whether that be automobile/taxis/ride share or the bus system. The project has ongoing close coordination with Metro and is in discussions with area transportation leaders to ensure the Bullet Train works in concert with existing systems in Houston. For example, Metro has its Northwest Transit Center right in this same area.
Brazos Valley Station
The Brazos Valley Station in Grimes County will be near Texas 90 and State Highway 30 about equidistant between Bryan/College Station and Huntsville. It would include direct shuttle service to Texas A&M University.
What will the economic impact be to the state?
The Texas Bullet Train will create a brand new industry in United States, right here in Texas and inject an estimated $36 billion in economic benefits over the next 25 years. This will be in the form of direct spending during construction, employee payroll and spending related to the maintenance and operation of the system.
By creating new jobs and stimulating commerce in and between North Texas, the Brazos Valley and Houston, this project helps to ensure that Texas will continue to be an economic model for the country. This state-of-the-art transportation option has been recognized in economic development circles as a differentiator for companies and employees as they consider moving to the state.
How many jobs will this project create?
The Texas Bullet Train will create an estimated 10,000 direct jobs per year during construction and more than 1,000 direct permanent jobs when the train is fully operational. Current estimates show 25% of the permanent jobs created will be in rural counties between North Texas and Houston, and will be sourced locally. These jobs include highly-skilled labor positions such as electricians, metal workers, and other specialized professionals to maintain and operate the system.
Will the Texas Bullet Train pay taxes along the route?
As an investor-owned project, this Railroad will be a significant taxpayer to the state, counties and school districts in communities where tracks, stations and other infrastructure are located. It will pay an estimated $2.5 billion in taxes to the state, counties, local municipalities, school, hospital and community college districts between now and 2040 as a result of the multi-billion-dollar infrastructure investment. That amount largely will come from property taxes and state and local sales taxes.
How will this railroad help travelers?
Bullet trains provide Texans a safe, reliable and convenient alternative to driving or flying. Passengers will be able to travel between North Texas and Houston in about 90 minutes without fear of delay, which will help ease traffic and congestion along the I-45 corridor – the 2nd deadliest highway in the U.S. Ridership studies show the average traveler will save over 120 minutes when making this trip compared with driving or flying.
WORKING WITH LANDOWNERS
What is your approach to working with landowners?
This Railroad recognizes any time there are discussions about land, it’s an emotional issue and one we take seriously. Any impact to someone’s property is deeply personal, which is why, in building this project, the commitment to minimize the impact to landowners and communities is paramount.
The Texas Central team’s planning has emphasized the importance of identifying and using land adjacent to or within existing rights of way in order to minimize negative impacts to landowner property. We operate by these Guiding Principles and fully support and embrace the tenets of the Texas Landowner’s Bill of Rights, found here.
This Railroad is taking a personalized approach when meeting with landowners. Team members meet with every landowner in face-to-face conversations listening and continuing to work together to understand each property and concern.
Will the Bullet Train use eminent domain to obtain property for the line?
The Railroad is committed to working with each and every landowner in an open and personalized manner and will use the court system and eminent domain only as a last resort. However, eminent domain powers for railroads like the UP, BNSF and Texas Central are set forth in the Texas Constitution. Texas forefathers passed laws allowing private companies in certain industries that provide a public good the ability to exercise eminent domain in limited cases.
Without eminent domain for infrastructure, Texans would not have the benefit of things like: air conditioning (electric utility providers Oncor/Centerpoint); the internet and telephone services (Verizon/AT&T); gas for vehicles/home heating (pipeline companies); transportation of people and goods (highways and railroads).
Have you changed any of your plans due to community/landowner involvement?
Yes. Project engineers and designers have been listening to people who live and work in the counties along the proposed route. As a result, the majority of the route is being designed on an elevated viaduct. These elevated viaducts will have horizontal and vertical clearances similar to those used by TxDOT for highways. This ensures public roads will remain in service, allowing for unobstructed movement alongside and under the elevated tracks.
How will the Bullet Train affect the environment along the route and surrounding areas?
The FRA’s DEIS is a direct result of millions of dollars years of work and scientific study to determine the best possible route for the railroad. One of the core commitments of this project is to work in a way that minimizes environmental impact. As part of that commitment, a multi-disciplinary group within Texas Central is focused on developing the project through Low Impact Design. This includes minimizing the project’s environmental footprint, being good stewards of natural resources and working with local communities in a collaborative and respectful manner.
In fact, the Bullet Train’s comparatively light environmental impact is one of the plan’s greatest benefits. In addition to providing an alternative to travel by car or airplane, the bullet train emits 1/12th the carbon dioxide than a Boeing B777-200 per seat.* This is especially important due to the exponential growth in Texas. In fact, four of the counties served by the train are already in air quality non-attainment status: Harris, Waller, Ellis and Dallas.
The trains are also exceptionally quiet and unobtrusive to their neighbors, having been optimized over more than 50 years of service in Japan.
You can read more about the project’s potential environmental impacts in the FRA’s DEIS on their website, here: https://www.fra.dot.gov/Page/P1078
*Data from JRC, based on Tokyo-Osaka line.
How will this reduce traffic congestion?
Traffic and population studies indicate that automobile travel time between Dallas and Houston is expected to increase to over 6.5 hours in the next 20 years. Bullet Trains will provide a faster, safer alternative to auto travel, which will help alleviate this congestion by providing an alternative transportation option for the 14 million people traveling between Houston and North Texas annually. This will have an impact on air quality which is already in non-attainment status in Harris, Waller, Ellis and Dallas counties.
How is this good for the environment?
High-speed rail’s comparatively light environmental impact is one of the plan’s greatest benefits. In addition to providing an alternative to travel by car or airplane, the bullet train to be deployed in Texas is based on the Tokaido Shinkansen System, which is in operation today between Tokyo and Osaka in Japan, and emits 1/12th the carbon dioxide than a Boeing B777-200 per seat.* The trains are also exceptionally quiet and unobtrusive to their neighbors, having been optimized over more than 50 years of service in Japan.
*Data based on Tokyo-Osaka line.
Who is running the environmental review and how can I learn more?
The Federal Railroad Administration is leading the preparation of the Environmental Impact Statement for the project. Information related to the process can be found at http://www.fra.dot.gov/Page/P0700.
How safe is a Bullet Train?
Travelling on the Japanese Shinkansen Bullet Train is the safest and most reliable way to travel in the world. The Texas Bullet Train will use this technology which has operated for more than 53 years without a crash and therefore no fatalities due to operations. It uses a “dedicated system,” meaning no other trains travel on the same tracks. And, since it never crosses a road at grade, it removes any opportunity for intersecting with vehicles. It is a system to avoid crashes as opposed to previous systems designed to survive them.
The Shinkansen system does not move passengers overnight, so that regular system inspection and maintenance can be performed.
Will it be safe for pedestrians and cross-traffic?
One of the key elements to the safe design of the Railroad, is that it will be “grade separated,” which means it will cross over or under all public roads and will have no at-grade intersections with people or vehicles. There will never be cars waiting on trains to pass and there will be no risk of trains interacting with cars. So, no descending arms or clanging bells. In addition, the track itself will be protected to prevent people, domestic animals or wildlife from accessing the rail tracks.
What type of security measures will the system use?
The Texas Central team includes industry experts with extensive experience in transportation security who are already working on security plans and procedures. Members of the project’s security team have ongoing dialogue with the Department of Homeland Security, the Transportation Security Administration to discuss every aspect of the project. Representatives will also work closely with officials from the Texas Department of Public Safety, the FBI and local law enforcement. This is an important component of the Federal Railroad Administration’s review and issuance of the Rule of Particular Applicability.
THE RIDER EXPERIENCE
What is it like to ride on a Bullet Train?
The rider experience on the Texas Bullet Train will be unique and different than anything you can experience in Texas, or the nation, today. Once constructed, it will immediately provide the most reliable, technology-enabled and comfortable transportation option in the state.
Reliable/Convenient: Trains leave and arrive on time. In fact, this technology in operation in Japan moves 400,000 people every day and has less than a one-minute annual average delay. Bullet Train delays are measured in seconds instead of minutes and hours.
Productive: No other transportation option in Texas today is technology-enabled like a Bullet Train, which will allow continuous safe digital connectivity from station to station and throughout the entire journey.
Comfortable: Two-by-two seating with lots of elbow and leg room provides passengers a “first class experience in every seat.”
Will the Bullet Train be ADA Accessible?
The Texas Bullet Train will meet or exceed existing federal accessibility regulations required by the Americans with Disabilities Act.
Team members are working closely with communities for persons with disabilities to ensure the ridership experience is the best it can be for everyone – safe, predictable and enjoyable. When you design the trains and stations with the disability community in mind, all riders benefit from the well-designed system.
With multiple doors on each train, the loading and unloading of all passengers including those in need of assistance is facilitated quickly. Those passengers in wheel chairs will be able to roll on and off the trains and up and down the aisles. There will also be wheelchair accessible bathrooms. As a result, these passengers have the freedom to decide whether they require someone to travel with them or can go independently. They also can decide whether to surrender their chair or not, greatly reducing the probability of breaking their equipment.
The Railroad will also be welcoming and accommodating to passengers with service animals.
The leg room provided by most seats will allow those with service animals to select a variety of seating, not just in a bulkhead row. Texas Central recognizes the importance of having service animals accompany persons with disabilities, and we will work hard to develop policies that are as accommodating as possible.
Who is funding the project?
Investors and entrepreneurs. Texas Central is an investor-funded company utilizing a market-led approach to financing, led by a group of primarily Texan investors. The Railroad will not seek grants from the US Government or the State of Texas, nor any operational subsidy once operation begins. The project will be financed with a blend of debt and equity.
What will the project cost?
The train system will cost more than $12-billion to construct. This includes the tracks, viaducts, berms, maintenance facilities, power sub stations and three passenger stations.
What is the timeline for construction?
Work is progressing every day to build the Texas Bullet Train.
Texas engineers, architects and environmental experts are working every day, on many fronts, including infrastructure engineering design, development of world-leading safety practices and rules, design of the interior of the trains, best practices for the customer/rider experience, minimizing environmental impact and much more.
Following the release of the DEIS on December 15, 2017, we could begin construction as early as 2019.
Where is the project in the regulatory approval process?
The project continues to work through an extensive and detailed regulatory review process involving 19 federal and state agencies, being led by the Federal Railroad Administration.
The release of the Draft Environmental Impact Statement on December 15 is the latest regulatory milestone for the project – and a major one! The next step will be the release of the Final Environmental Impact Statement, followed by Record of Decision and the beginning of the construction phase – as soon as 2019.
Other significant milestones:
- Federal safety regulatory approval engaged in 2013;
- Federal environmental impact study underway since 2014;
- 1st capital raise from all Texas-based investors announced July 2015;
- System safety rules under review at FRA since April 2016.
Who is JRC?
Central Japan Railway Company (JRC) is a publicly traded, private company that operates 323 high-speed passenger trains each day on the line between Tokyo and Osaka, Japan. JRC’s Tokaido Shinkansen Bullet Train total system is the world’s premier high-speed train technology that uses leading-edge technologies to ensure system safety, an exceptional passenger experience, efficiency and reliability that is second to none. To read more about JRC, please see their website.
What is JRCs’ role in this project?
Texas Central, with its preferred design build partners Fluor Corporation and Lane Construction, are collaborating with JRC to do the knowledge transfer to deploy the world’s safest technology in the United States. By introducing the N700-I technology as a “total system solution”, JRC provides long-term and continuous technical support and process improvement for the system, which means they will apply their years of experience to act in an advisory capacity to ensure the success of the project.