As the Texas Bullet Train continues to gain momentum and build toward construction we want to make sure accurate information and the latest facts are available. In some cases, we have found misinformation, rumors and innuendo continue to make their way into the conversation, whether spread by word-of-mouth, online or in the mainstream media.
Below, we dispel some of the most prominent myths that have spread about this railroad in recent months:
“The Texas Bullet Train will use eminent domain to condemn a 4-mile swath across Texas.”
These claims are false and alarmist. The Texas Bullet Train is being built with the approach for the LEAST disruption as possible, using low-impact design principles to minimize disturbances to the land. This approach is not only the most sensitive for communities and the environment, but is the best approach for operating the railroad and the business plan.
Any claims of this nature are simply not true. The facts and common sense prove the point:
- Purchasing land is intrusive, complicated and expensive. It is in everyone’s best interest, including Texas Central, to limit the amount of land required for the system.
- Nowhere, anywhere has a linear project utilized this size of reach. This project is no different.
- In the Federal Railroad Administration’s (FRA) Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS), limits of disturbance (Rights of Way) on land are outlined for the route and do not exceed 500ft. A 4-mile impact is simply not proposed and will not be approved in the environmental permit.
- Acquiring dirt/aggregates and materials for the project will be purchased on a commercial basis, based on cost and quality. It is a fact that the cost to purchase dirt and aggregates is significantly less than the time and cost to buy acreage for the materials. Again, this approach is best for everyone, including Texas Central.
“Texas Central does not have the right of eminent domain.”
Texas Central is building positive relationships directly with property owners, and any use of its condemnation authority will be a last resort. And Texas Central is having success in these efforts. The numbers speak for themselves, a reflection of the collaborative and positive efforts between the company and property owners. The company has received 3,000 signed survey access forms and it has secured options from land owners on 30 percent of the parcels likely needed for the train’s route – and more than half in Grimes County, site of the midway passenger station.
“Feral hogs will destroy the railroad’s infrastructure.”
All appropriate measures will be taken to protect people and animals from the high-speed train and to protect the train system. Fencing and other design elements along the route will vary depending on site specific conditions. Feral hogs are specifically contemplated in Section 16.2.9 of the FRA’s DEIS.
“Where field survey and consultation with local resource agencies and subject matter experts indicate the presence of established feral pig populations, detailed design of specialized fencing would be advanced given the animal’s ability to dig, the damage that the animal can do to sensitive systems, and the harm that can be caused by impact with an HSR trainset”
— Technical Memorandum for Wildlife Crossings
As a result of the FRA’s release of the DEIS and the preferred alignment, the train system’s preferred design/builders, Fluor Enterprises and Lane Construction, with engineering support from WSP, are continuing to sharpen the focus for construction through ongoing engineering work. Texas Central designers and builders will work closely with wildlife experts to design and implement the proper protection, which could include, among other things, burying the fence about 3 feet below grade.
“Texas Central surveys land without owners’ permission.”
Texas Central does not conduct surveys by entering the landowner’s property without the landowner’s consent or by court order. In all aspects of building the Bullet Train, Texas Central tries to work with landowners, and to be a good neighbor. Texas Central makes multiple attempts to reach landowners whose property needs to be studied for environmental and engineering purposes. Where an agreement can be reached with a landowner, surveyors enter the property and conduct the necessary work.
It should be noted that there are some types of survey work can be accomplished by reviewing public documents or satellite imagery, and Texas Central has utilized this public information where available.
“This is a Japanese funded and developed project – only the Japanese will be employed.”
This is simply false. Texas Central is a Texas-based company that exists for the sole purpose of developing the investor-led Texas Bullet Train, connecting North Texas and Houston. The company has offices and employees in both Dallas and Houston. Texas Central is a domestic, American-run company.
Texas Central is using the unmatched expertise of Japan Central Railway Company, the company that operates the Shinkansen N700 bullet trains, the safest transportation in the world with a flawless safety record over its 53-year history of operations.
This project is on a global stage. A wide variety of investors will finance the construction of the system. Many will be from Texas or other parts of the United States. We also expect billions of dollars in capital investment from around the world—including Japan—to flow into the Lone Star State.
“Ticket prices are prohibitively expensive. I read in the DEIS that Texas Central is going to charge $199 for a one-way ticket. This is going to be a train for rich people.”
The fares used for the purposes of the DEIS were not developed by Texas Central.
Pricing will be based on market driven variables – advance purchase, time of day, day of week, frequent traveler and other promotions – similar to how hotels, airlines, buses and other travel and lodging experiences manage their pricing today.
Over the last five years Texas Central has spent millions of dollars researching and understanding travel patterns between Houston and North Texas. Travelers that choose to drive will be a large majority of all trips. Therefore, ticket prices and strategy to attract passengers will be competitive with both driving and flying.
The cost to drive one-way based on the IRS allowable reimbursement for mileage is $131 (.545 cents x 240 miles). Average airfare is $147. Neither of these include mileage from/to ultimate destinations, meals, lodging, etc.
Texas Central expects premium fares to be price-competitive with this and economy fares to be less. In addition to these fares, promotions will be designed for students, seniors, families, frequent travelers and groups.
“The project will only benefit major cities, not the cities in between.”
Communities along the route between Dallas and Houston will benefit in big ways from the Texas Bullet Train, including job creation and a positive economic impact to local counties.
Construction of the Bullet Train will create 10,000 jobs a year during each year of the build. As indicated in the DEIS, 25 percent of those jobs are expected to be sourced in rural communities.
In addition, rural communities will see a significant boost to their local economy in the form of tax revenue, as the Bullet Train will be a taxpayer. Texas Central will pay nearly $2.5 billion in tax revenue 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.
Finally, during construction, thousands of people will pump money directly into local communities by eating in local restaurants, staying in hotels, filling up at local gas stations, among other things.
“This is a boondoggle project just like California.”
The Texas Bullet Train is being built the Texas way. To start, it is not a government project. It is investor owned and will take no federal grant money or state appropriations. Every decision is data-driven, customer focused and based on free market principles. You can find a comparison chart, here.
Some other major differences are not only philosophical and financial, but safety-related. It is based on the system that is the safest in the world with a perfect 53 year record of no crashes.
The Texas Bullet Train:
- Has no road crossings at grade, so no crossings of vehicles or pedestrians.
- Will operate on newly constructed route — straight and flat with no speed restricted curves —and new rails allow for full operating speeds of up to 205 mph.
- Features dedicated tracks so no other train will operate within the Teas Bullet Train system. This approach protects against train-to-train contact and rail damage caused by heavier trains like freight cars.
- Has one-directional tracks, so it will operate southbound trains on one track and north-bound trains on another, removing the possibility for a head-on collision.
- Utilizes Automatic Train Control which EXCEEDS US requirements and ensures drivers cannot speed.
- Lighter than European trains which better preserves rail conditions, resulting in more dependable performance. With only 3 stops in the 240-mile route, the focus is, and will remain on an exceptional passenger experience and fiscal responsibility.