Texas Is Coming … and at High-Speed!

So far, California’s high-speed rail project has been the one generating most of the press, not to mention controversy. Notwithstanding all that, the official groundbreaking for the project took place just a few days ago in Fresno.
But don’t look now, there’s also a high-speed rail project in Texas and it could very well eclipse the California project for the nation’s attention. In fact, because the people in Texas have almost none of the terrain problems facing the California project, their bullet trains could actually be finished and in operation before the California train.
The proposed high-speed route will link Dallas and Houston, both major markets with populations in excess of six million people. Texas Central Railway is the company behind the project; they are backed by the JR Central Railway in Japan. And those guys know what they’re doing!
The trains will operate at a top speed of just over 200 mph, covering the 240 miles between the two cities in about 90 minutes. By contrast, driving between those cities takes about three hours and 40 minutes. And flying is at least a three hour proposition. The flight itself is just an hour, of course, but there’s getting from the city proper out to the airport, the time needed for check-in and security, and then travel from the airport to wherever you’re going in the city at the other end.
The biggest difference between the two projects is that the Texas rail line will be privately financed. Outside of the usual NIMBY objections to the route, there’s really no reason for the rabid anti-subsidy ideologues to get upset and involved.
It is interesting to note that the idea of a Dallas-Houston high-speed train was first proposed 20-some years ago, but was frustrated and finally abandoned due in great measure to intense opposition from Southwest Airlines and its head at the time, Herb Kelleher… proving once again that while business moguls like Kelleher tout competition as a good thing, they think no competition is a helluva lot better.