Amtrak is working with private developer Texas Central Partners to revive construction of a high-speed passenger train that would travel the 236 miles between Houston and Dallas in 90 minutes. However, funding for the stalled $30-billion project is unclear, as is its future. Neither Amtrak nor Texas Central have a timeline for construction.
Last week, Texas Central officials said Amtrak is working with the company to apply for federal funds to “conduct advance planning and analysis work” intended to further determine project viability, Amtrak said in a statement.
But officials of Amtrak and Texas Central did not respond to requests for comment.
Acording to their statement, applications are already in for further studies and design work, under the Consolidated Rail Infrastructure Safety and Improvements grant program, the Corridor Identification and Development program and the Federal-State Partnership for Intercity Passenger Rail grant program.
The high-speed rail project was announced over a decade ago as a private venture, without government funding. Leadership issues, lawsuits and other legal matters, including land rights, delayed the project, initially set for 2020 completion, and drove its estimated cost from $12 billion to more than $30 billion.
Allen Rutter, a senior research scientist at Texas A&M Transportation Institute, thinks the agreement is a way for Amtrak to have a larger footprint in Texas.
The carrier also has submitted grant applications for federal funds for its daily Sunset Limited service and the extension of the Crescent from Mississippi through Louisiana and Texas. Amtrak also supports Kansas DOT’s Heartland Flyer Extension Corridor Identification and Development (Corridor ID) application that will connect Wichita and communities across Kansas, Oklahoma, and Texas to the Amtrak network.
The railroad says it also supports Texas Dept. of Transportation’s applications for the Texas Triangle (Dallas-Fort Worth, Houston, San Antonio) routes.