High speed rail clears another hurdle

Texas CentralThe Japanese Shinkansen is a high-speed train used by JR Central in Japan. A private company is planning to build a rail line between Dallas and Houston, using the same trains with a station based just outside of Walker County. 

A Texas appeals court ruled in favor of Texas Central, possibly paving the way for the high-speed rail’s construction near Walker County. 

The Thirteenth Court of Appeals of Texas ruled that Texas Central was both a railroad company and interurban electric railway, despite operating no trains yet. The company intends to build a high-speed rail line between Dallas and Houston.

The decision by Justice Nora Longoria comes after a four-year court battle waged by landowners along the proposed route in Leon County. The landowners argued that the Texas Central project wasn’t a railroad and therefore didn’t have the rights associated with a railroad, including eminent domain and access to property for surveyors.

“This decision is rooted in state law that allows survey access and use of eminent domain by railroads, pipelines, electrical lines and other industries that provide for the public good and a strong economy,” said Carlos Aguilar, CEO of Texas Central. “This decision confirms our status as an operating railroad and allows us to continue moving forward with our permitting process and all of our other design, engineering and land acquisition efforts.

The landowners though plan to appeal the ruling to the Texas Supreme Court, according to published reports.

“We are disappointed the Court of Appeals treated these fundamental private property rights, cherished by all Texans, with such disregard,” said Kyle Workman, the chairman and president for Texas Against High-Speed Rail. “This project’s cost estimate is now at $30B, the company has laid off the majority of its staff and still does not have the plans, permits or funds to move forward, so this project is far from shovel-ready as they claim.”

In 2019, Texas Central completed a portion of the land surveys required by the federal agencies conducting an environmental review of the project. The final environmental impact statement on the project is scheduled to be published by the Federal Railroad Administration this month.

Texas Central says that they expect to create more than 17,000 jobs during the construction process.