Supporters and opponents of a planned high-speed rail line between Houston and Dallas continue their efforts, though it’s likely the state legislature’s upcoming session starting in January will be the final determinant of the train line’s destiny. Texas Central Railway on Wednesday released a new study commissioned by the company showed more than 90 percent of potential riders would save an hour of travel time by using the train as opposed to flying or driving. The analysis compared the actual time of travel for each. For air travel, the time used in the study included early arrival at the airport for passenger screening in addition to the flight time.
Further, the study by L.E.K. Consulting concluded nearly five million passengers would use the line annually by 2026. Two-thirds of the 2,000 people polled who have made a Houston-to-Dallas trip in the past year said they would consider using the line on their next trip, if it was available.“This study demonstrates strong, pent-up demand for better travel options,” said Texas Central CEO Tim Keith, in a statement announcing the results of the study. Texas Central is proposing the 240-mile train line between the two metro areas. Earlier this summer, Keith said the company was still on pace to start construction in late 2017 or early 2018, though the bulk of work would start later.
Plans call for Japanese-style bullet trains capable of making the journey between Houston and Dallas in 90 minutes. That’s 70 minutes faster than by car and 50 minutes faster than air travel, L.E.K.’s study found. However, when not including the extra time it takes to go through passenger screening at the airport, airlines fly nonstop between Houston and Dallas in 60 minutes.
The rail line, however, faces intense opposition in rural areas where it is planned to cross. A number of counties and their local officials have passed resolutions in opposition to a private company having eminent domain rights.
Earlier this week, Waller County’s sub-regional planning commission – which has already stated its opposition to the train line’s passage through its area – filed a lawsuit in Austin against the Texas Department of Transportation, related to the transportation agency’s refusal to coordinate planning activities related to the line.