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"Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this train"? (Photo by Flickr user, kaffeeeinstein)

Can Texas Support a Privately Funded Bullet Train?

The Texas Tribune today has a piece about the proposed bullet train from Dallas to Houston, which we’ve mentioned before. The big question, of course, is whether the money for the privately funded project will materialize:

Richard Arena, a transportation and infrastructure consultant who sits on the board of the U.S. High Speed Rail Association, said he believes Texas Central’s project could become the first truly high-speed rail system in the country, but he has concerns about the project’s financing. In particular, he’s not clear how the Dallas-Houston line will manage to earn enough revenue to pay off the interest on the billions of dollars’ worth of bonds that will likely have to be issued to fund the construction. Such financial challenges are why some public subsidies are the norm for public rail systems, he said.

“I still have skepticism of where the funding is going to come long-term,” Arena said.

Meeting financial goals will be far more critical for Texas Central than for Amtrak, for example, which can subsidize money-losing routes across the country with revenue from its most profitable Northeast Corridor lines and turn to Congress for an infusion of taxpayer dollars in case of emergency. There will be none of that wiggle room in Texas, where the state’s Republican leadership has shown very little interest in supporting rail projects.

Also check out their chart that details the various travel times required and carbon footprint left by various transportation options for the trip. If it’s the environment you care about, take a bus. (Or hitchhike, maybe.)

4 comments on “Can Texas Support a Privately Funded Bullet Train?

  1. Apparently it can….until you add Arlington and Fort Worth to the mix. Initially it was just a Dallas-Houston line, but lo and be hold the agency of a local transportation agency made it be known Arlington and FW needed to be added.

  2. but if you look at the carbon footprint divided bu the number of people…trains are so bad.

  3. Whoever made that chart has never traveled on a Plane or HSR. 1 hour to fly? Oh really? How about it is really, show up 1 hour before your flight, then fly for 1 hour. HSR is, show up 10 minutes before your train arrivals and 90 minutes of travel.

    It’s a 2 hour vs 1 hour 40 minutes.

  4. Whatever the carbon footprint is, it’s surely cheaper than the cost of quelling the violent riots that are sure to ensue if that nightmare of a highway called I-45 keeps getting more crowded. I think 4 hours is generous for vehicle traffic; as someone who’s made that drive regularly, there is ALWAYS a traffic jam at one end (or at Buccee’s!) unless you’re driving from 1 a.m. to 5 a.m. More like 4.5 to 5 hours. Just… all kinds of road rage.