Federal Railroad Commission to begin rule making on high speed railway

Published: Sep. 6, 2019 at 7:37 PM CDT
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New steps have been approved towards creating the first high-speed railway in the United States, with a stop right here in the Brazos Valley.

Texas Central, the company constructing the railway says that the Federal Railroad Administration has approved its petition to move forward with writing rules that will apply to this specific project.

The company says the high-speed railway will run from North Texas, have a stop here in the Brazos Valley, and end in Houston. Texas Central says the 12 billion dollar project will bring 1,500 jobs total around all three stops, and an economic impact of 36 billion dollars over the course of 25 years.

The train will be based on Central Japan Railway’s Tokaido Shinkansen technology. Texas Central says it will be using the company’s latest technology for this project.

Texas Central Managing Director of External Affairs Holly Reed says this is an opportunity to help both the people and economy of Texas.

“Because this is the first high-speed train in the United States it puts Texas on the map in a way it would not have been otherwise,” said Reed. “People will look at Texas as being at the forefront of technology in transportation and bringing people together in a way that hasn’t been seen before.”

Reed says the price of tickets will be determined once they are closer to completion, but that they will be different for Aggie game days, nights, and mornings. They will range to about $100.

Texas Central looks at this petition approval as one more step closer to completion and plans to begin construction next year and have it up and running by early 2026.

Texas Central sent out this statement Wednesday:

“The FRA’s action on the Rule of Particular Applicability (RPA) marks a major milestone in our quest to bring a transformative mobility solution, while minimizing the impact on the environment and land use, as opposed to other options,” said Carlos F. Aguilar, CEO, Texas Central. “We thank Administrator Batory for his leadership in bringing high-speed rail service to the United States. We will meet or exceed all requirements the FRA mandates, to ensure we have the safest high-speed rail system in the world.”

Texans Against High-Speed Rail released a statement regarding this news Friday saying:

"In the 52-year history of the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA), it has never granted a Rule of Particular Applicability (RPA), and the process has not even been clearly defined. Texans Against High-Speed Rail was notified last week by USDOT and FRA that after three years of delay because of opposition to the project, the RPA process will now begin moving forward due to foreign political pressure. However, Texas Central’s misleading characterization of this action does not mean it is an approval for the project. It now has to go through a lengthy rule-making process that essentially creates a regulatory carveout, or monopoly, specific to the Japanese Shinkansen HSR technology, and there is no time frame for completion or guarantee of what the rule will require. This unprecedented move by USDOT and FRA should be of great concern to all US taxpayers and citizens of Texas. More specifically, FRA is likely to get serious pushback from the entire rail industry if they plan to create a monopoly rule for Texas Central."

Kyle Workman, Chairman, and President, Texans Against HSR

After three years, the US Department of Transportation (DOT) has officially begun to move forward with the Texas Central Railway's (TCR) request for a Rule of Particular Applicability (RPA), a special regulatory carveout that the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) has never been completed in its 52-year history. With this prompting by DOT, FRA has been instructed to move forward with drafting what is called a Notice for Proposed Rule Making (NPRM). NPRM’s are guided by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB). Once the NPRM is submitted to OMB, the Director of OMB and the public will have a chance to adjust and comment on the proposed rule. This unprecedented regulatory carveout has no bearing on whether or not the Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) and Record of Decision (ROD) can move forward or be denied. The ROD can only be issued after a Final EIS, and the RPA process is conducted independently of those; however, each has been significantly delayed and thwarted due to the strong opposition of Texans Against High-Speed Rail. In April 2019, Congressman Kevin Brady led a letter along with Representative Ron Wright that highlighted concerns about TCR's inability to claim eminent domain authority, lack of interoperability, and the troubling precedent TCR would establish for interurban electric railways. In addition to leading a Texas delegation letter, the Congressman has had ongoing conversations with DOT and FRA regarding the flaws of this project and how it would not be a good infrastructure project for Texas."