Let’s talk about Public Safety

The Texas Bullet Train will be the safest way to travel between Houston, the Brazos Valley and North Texas.  It is utilizing a system with a 53-year perfect safety record of no crashes and therefore no fatalities as a result of operations. 

Texas Central’s commitment to public safety is absolute and unwavering. The bullet train will bring the safest mode of transportation available and we look forward to working cooperatively with county judges, sheriffs and other local officials to develop world-class public safety, system security, and emergency preparedness plans of which all Texans can be proud in support of this project.

This outreach has already begun and there are requirements and guidelines at the Federal and State level that will ensure it continues:

  • EXISTING RELATIONSHIPS: Beginning in May 2016, Texas Central was in regular contact with sheriffs’ departments during land surveying activities.
  • REQUESTS TO MEET: The Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) released its Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) in December. On Jan. 12, 2018, Texas Central requested meetings with all county judges to discuss multiple items found in the report, including “plans to accommodate emergency vehicle access and school bus routes” and “emergency management coordination and preparedness.” On February 13, 2018, Texas Central provided all 10 county sheriffs an overview of emergency response-related facts and findings from the DEIS and requested a meeting to discuss these and other issues in person.
  • NO PUBLIC ROADS CLOSED: In the DEIS, the FRA noted that no public roads will be closed and that the impact will be minimal to existing traffic and first responders.  As a reminder, the train will NOT cross any road or railroads at grade and the DEIS lays out whether crossings will be over or under the bullet train.
  • POTENTIAL RESPONSE TIME IMPROVEMENTS: In the DEIS, the FRA said many of the modifications the project will make along the 240-mile route “represent a potential improvement for emergency response.”
  • IMPROVED NORTH-SOUTH ACCESS: The DEIS also said while travel times would slightly increase along some roads running perpendicular to the alignment, “roads running parallel to the alignment would improve access and travel times for some north-south movements across a service area.”
  • FIRST RESPONDERS IDENTIFIED: The DEIS, in its safety and security review, identified emergency service providers, law enforcement agencies, fire departments and hospitals in each of the affected counties.
  • SAFETY IS A TEAM EFFORT: Responsibility for emergency responder coordination does not reside solely with county sheriffs, but rather with multiple departments and county offices. To initiate this coordination, Texas Central has reached out to all 10 county judges, some of whom also lead their county’s office of emergency management.
  • CLEAR RESPONSIBILITY: In the DEIS, the FRA also states that Texas Central “would coordinate with TxDOT or the appropriate local jurisdiction and any potentially affected emergency responders during final design to avoid any appreciable negative impact to emergency response times.”

In addition, there are very specific state and federal statutes that describe Texas Central’s requirements for safety and security.

These include, but are not limited to those found at 49 CFR 239.101(a)(5):

  • Each railroad to which this statute applies, including Texas Central, shall establish and maintain a working relationship with the on-line emergency responders by, as a minimum:
    • Developing and making available a training program for all on-line emergency responders who could reasonably be expected to respond during an emergency situation. The training program shall include an emphasis on access to railroad equipment, location of railroad facilities, and communications interface, and provide information to emergency responders who may not have the opportunity to participate in an emergency simulation. Each affected railroad shall either offer the training directly or provide the program information and materials to state training institutes, firefighter organizations, or police academies;
    • Inviting emergency responders to participate in emergency simulations; and
    • Distributing applicable portions of its current emergency preparedness plan at least once every three years, or whenever the railroad materially changes its plan in a manner that could reasonably be expected to affect the railroad’s interface with the on-line emergency responders, whichever occurs earlier, including documentation concerning the railroad’s equipment and the physical characteristics of its line, necessary maps, and the position titles and telephone numbers of relevant railroad officers to contact.

Additionally, as codified during the 85th Texas Legislative session and unopposed by Texas Central in SB 975, several specific requirements related to the safety and security of a high-speed train system were passed into law. These include, but are not limited to:

  • Texas Central can only use the services of a state or local peace officer if it compensates the state or local entity for that officer’s time.
  • The Texas Department of Public Safety must provide an emergency management training course to certain Texas Central employees.
  • Texas Central’s security plan must be consistent with those established for passenger railroads by the Transportation Security Administration.
  • Texas Central must establish effective intrusion protection and access controls for all railroad-owned facilities and the rail corridor.
  • Texas Central must institute passive or active passenger screening protocols.
  • Texas Central must collect and investigate security threats submitted by the public.
  • Texas Central must communicate as appropriate with the state Emergency Management Council and the Texas Division of Emergency Management

We have a culture of safety at Texas Central, and the safety components the Texas Bullet Train brings with it have resulted in a 53-year perfect operation record of no crashes that will be deployed in our state.  As a reminder, below are some of the important factors.

  • Never crosses a road at grade so there is no opportunity for intersection with cars or vehicles.  There are no crossing arms or clanging bells since there are no crossings of this nature.
  • There are no other trains on the system – either freight or passenger. This ensures the tracks are dedicated to these trains only.
  • Trains operate on dedicated northbound and southbound tracks so you never have trains heading opposite (head on) directions on the same track.
  • The railroad will deploy a safety operations system that is a generation beyond the federally-mandated Positive Train Control. It ensures no speeding along the route and electronically monitors and corrects potential human error.
  • The route is built to be straight and flat with all new construction that is tailored for this system.  It is not being retrofitted to be compatible with old or existing conditions or systems.

Safety is a focus of every decision that is made with the Bullet Train.  We look forward to providing a safe and reliable travel alternative that Texans are demanding.

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