The privately funded bullet train that aims to connect Houston and Dallas is continuing to move forward. Now, several potential rail routes between the two cities have been revealed.
The Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) and the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) released maps of nine potential routes, although only two routes were "selected for detailed evaluation." Evaluating potential routes is only one step in a federally mandated Environmental Impact Statement process to assess the rail line, a process that could take several years to complete.
According to existing rail codes, the project's backers — who are paying for the evaluations — would have to purchase the properties that the proposed 205 MPH rail would run through from the companies or agencies which currently own them.
Tickets to take the 90-minute train trip between Houston and Dallas will be competitive with airlines.
The first public meeting addressing the project, held by officials from both the FRA and TxDOT, took place in Dallas on Tuesday. The meeting drew unanimous support, according to the Texas Tribune, but also comments from both residents and officials stating that selecting the right location for stations is of the utmost importance.
When considering the route in terms of Houston, the decision revolves around which of the two routes are chosen. One runs through Tomball and comes along Loop 610 while heading south, while the other connects with Cypress and follows U.S. 290 to the city's center.
Of the land needed by Texas Central Railway (TCR), most of it is flat, meaning costs for tunnels and overpasses would be kept to a minimum. The project will cost upward of $10 billion according to estimates and its backers hope to have it completed by 2021. To offset the substantial cost, TCR — and some of the project's powerful allies — have said that tickets to take the 90-minute train trip between Houston and Dallas will be competitive with airlines.
More public meetings are planned, including a final meeting in Houston on Oct. 29 at NRG Center.