Amtrak gets some federal high speed rail funds

It’s something.

Amtrak has been awarded a $500,000 federal grant to further study and develop a proposed high-speed railway between Houston and Dallas, a long-envisioned plan that until earlier this year had appeared to have fizzled out.

Amtrak, the national passenger railroad company of the United States, announced in August it was exploring a partnership with Texas Central, the Dallas-based company that a decade ago hatched the idea of building a 240-mile railway that could transport passengers between the state’s two largest cities in a matter of about 90 minutes.

The initiative is one of seven high-speed rail projects across the country that was awarded grant funding on Friday by the Federal Railroad Administration, as part of its new Corridor Identification and Development Program using resources allocated through the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law passed by Congress in 2021. A total of 68 other rail projects in 44 states were awarded the same grant, while 10 ready-to-construct railway projects were selected for grants through the Federal-State Partnership for Intercity Passenger Rail Program.

A total of $8.2 billion was awarded for the rail initiatives, which include both high-speed and traditional rail service. The Houston-to-Dallas bullet train project is one of a few that aim to expand rail service in the Houston region.

“We are taking full advantage of the resources we have to advance world-class passenger rail services nationwide,” Amit Bose, the administrator for the Federal Railroad Administration, said in a news release from the U.S. Department of Transportation. “Today’s announcement is another step forward as we advance transformative projects that will carry Americans for decades to come and provide them with convenient, climate-friendly alternatives to congested roads and airports.”

The grant funding for the high-speed rail project between Houston and Dallas, which aims to use Shinkansen technology from Japan and utilize the former Northwest Mall site as the Houston terminal, does not mean it will come to fruition. The money will not be used for construction, but rather for further developing the project.

See here for some background. The Chron adds some details.

The money would be strictly for “preparing, completing, or documenting its service development plan,” and does not commit any funding for what is likely to be a $25 billion-to-$35 billion project.

“What we are doing is creating a pipeline for potential passenger rail projects,” Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg said in announcing 69 projects as part of the Corridor ID Program by the Federal Railroad Administration.


Texas, meanwhile, is years, if not decades, from construction, but progressing with some long-sought projects linking its major metros. In addition to the Amtrak award, federal officials also announced four other development studies, each totaling up to $500,00:

• Potential for high-speed service to add a stop in Fort Worth and continue into Dallas, Brazos Valley and Houston, sponsored by the North Central Texas Council of Governments.

• Making the Sunset Limited service by Amtrak from Los Angeles to New Orleans daily, from three times a week, which would mean daily train service for Houston to San Antonio and New Orleans.

• Creating a new daily intercity route along the Sunset Limited’s path for service between Houston and San Antonio that would include stops in Rosenberg, Flatonia and Seguin, sponsored by the Texas Department of Transportation.

• Returning conventional passenger rail service in the “Texas Triangle” by connecting Houston and Dallas, with stops between Dallas and Houston in Corsicana, Hearne, College Station and Navasota, also sponsored by TxDOT.

Proponents of more frequent passenger rail service applauded the announcements, noting the opportunity to better connect smaller cities to the metro cores.

“This is a big step forward for Texas, and if we have the full cooperation and buy-in from our state legislature, TxDOT and the Texas Transportation Commission this would give Texans a daily travel choice we do not have at present,” said Texas Rail Advocates President Peter LeCody. “This would benefit a lot of smaller Texas cities with few transportation choices and help them promote their cities for tourism, business and economic development.”

That many of the projects overlap or potentially replicate one another is by design, federal officials said.

“The range of applications we selected were based on the options we wanted Texas to have,” Federal Railroad Administrator Amit Bose said.

The first project is that other high speed rail line, which has been moving a lot more reliably than Texas Central has. I approve of all of this, I just hope to live long enough to see any of it.

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3 Responses to Amtrak gets some federal high speed rail funds

  1. David Fagan says:

    How can a company from Japan use eminent domain in the United States to take land from U.S. citizens? This is how. I have less sympathy for the push to remove military bases from Japanese soil, but I wonder if the two issues have something in common.

  2. mollusk says:

    Texas Central is a US company; they proposed to use Japanese technology because it’s proven to be reliable. It’s sort of like driving a Toyota on a Texas highway.

  3. David Fagan says:

    Idk, its sorta like driving a Toyota that you do not own, and cannot own, and driving it on a Texas highway that is not owned by Texas, the people of Texas, was taken from people who live in Texas, and the profits are managed by the company that has a minority of people in Texas, but the money goes somewhere else, like, IDK, Japan. So, Texas central decided they wanted to make this line? Or, do foreign companies who develop these trains decide Texas Central was a great name for a company who wants to establish these lines? They went through a drastic fight lately and it wasn’t looking good for them, di join partners with another company that was bought by the government to avoid insolvency, AMTRAK. Now there’s U.S. tax dollars to help a Japanese company to use eminent domain and take people’s land from them who don’t want it taken? Please don’t tell me about the ‘fair market value’ scheme. If their land were taken by eminent domain by the U.S. would be terrible anyway, but this is force feeding an issue.

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