Is Texas Central in trouble?

This story sure questions its stability.

The departure of Texas Central Railway’s CEO has critics of the proposed bullet train between Houston and Dallas optimistic the controversial project has reached its last stop, far short of ever starting construction.

“Texas high-speed rail is collapsing before our eyes,” Rep. Kevin Brady, R-The Woodlands, a longtime skeptic of the plan, said in a social media post. “Today, with no leadership, no funding, no permits and no Washington bail-out from taxpayers, this project is dead.”

Carlos Aguilar, who stepped in as CEO in December 2016 as Texas Central said it was closing in on construction approvals, announced Saturday that he was leaving the company.

“While I could not align our current stakeholders on a common vision for a path forward, I wish the project the greatest success and remain convinced of the importance of this venture for the safety and prosperity of ALL Texans,” Aguilar wrote in a post on the career development site LinkedIn.

Texas Central did not respond to a request for comment.

Aguilar’s departure follows a moribund few months for the company, which dramatically slashed its staff early in the COVID pandemic, while saying it still planned to break ground soon on the 240-mile line between the two metro areas. The Federal Railroad Administration in September 2020 approved plans for the line, mostly along a utility corridor through 11 Texas counties, with a stop near College Station.

While a major step forward, the announcement was among the last significant moves for the proposed train line that was to use Japanese Shinkansen railcars assembled in the United States to whisk travelers between Houston and Dallas in 90 minutes.

For nearly two years, Texas Central announced various reiterations of previous agreements, shed more staff and fought critics who sought to strip it of its condemnation rights.

The issue of whether the company can acquire property via eminent domain remains unresolved, with a ruling pending from the Texas Supreme Court.

CEOs come and go – this one’s departure doesn’t necessarily mean anything. The lack of news is more troubling – TCR had hoped to start construction in 2020, and while we can all understand why that didn’t happen (seriously, look at the date on that post), the fact that they haven’t announced a new target date to start isn’t encouraging. I continue to believe that this project makes a lot of sense, but if nothing else the original contention that a privately-owned and funded railroad could get lines built and trains running in a faster and more efficient manner than a government-run entity has been sorely tested. I hate to think that all of this work could be thrown away and we’d be back at square one, but that outcome is in play. I sure hope to see something contrary to that soon.

Related Posts:

This entry was posted in Planes, Trains, and Automobiles and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

5 Responses to Is Texas Central in trouble?

  1. Jules says:

    All what work? The shoddy FEIS that claims 99% of the people who make the trip between Dallas and Houston by car would take the train instead? That same shoddy FEIS that claims all those cars will magically disappear from Houston traffic, when if Texas Central’s ridiculous ridership numbers actually come true it would mean millions more cars going to 290/610 each year?

    And CEOs may come and go, but I haven’t seen that a new CEO is coming in. Instead they are now being managed by a company that specializes in financial advisory and corporate restructurings, and advises clients through distress events, bankruptcy, reorganization and sale.

    They still haven’t paid their property taxes.

    I hope this project is finally over.

  2. C.L. says:

    I’m with Jules. We should forget looking for ways to reduce our carbon footprint on this planet and just drive, drive, drive internal combustion engine-powered automobiles (and airplanes to a certain extent) until the petroleum products from dead dinosaurs and assorted fauna are a thing of the past ! Then, if this planet is still habitable, we can revert back to walking everywhere. It might take a month to walk from Houston to Dallas, but I think it’d be worth it…ya know, just to get rid of that pesky bullet rain proposal and make it just a distant, unpalatable memory.

  3. Jules says:

    CL, this project is not a green project. If ridership is what Texas Central claims, it will bring a lot more cars into Houston – all the induced passengers they claim plus people that start/end their trip in, for example, The Woodlands, who would never enter Houston if driving. More cars = more pollution in the NAA.

    If their ridership claims are not met (does anyone really believe that 99% of Texans are going to spend over $300 roundtrip to take the HSR instead of driving?) then the project will never even overcome emissions spent during construction.

  4. Kibitzer says:

    RE: “fought critics who sought to strip it of its condemnation rights.”

    They can’t be stripped of condemnation rights if they never had them.

    Whether they qualify under the relevant statutes to claim such rights is up to the Texas Supreme Court to decide. The lower courts don’t have the last word on the matter.

    And the landowner that sued is not just a “critic”, but a party forcing the issue and providing the basis for an authoritative judicial resolution.

    Docket here:

    Looks like this case will set a new record in the number of amici curiae.

  5. Pingback: Supreme Court confirms that Texas Central is a railroad – Off the Kuff

Comments are closed.