AP NEWS

Support for bullet train voiced at Chamber luncheon

May 5, 2019

During a luncheon hosted by the Greater Tomball Area Chamber of Commerce on Friday, May 3, business owners and residents voiced support for the high speed train expected to travel between Houston to Dallas. David Hagy, regional vice president of external affairs for Texas Central, provided an project update to luncheon guests.

Robert Maxwell from Tomball, said he became a fan of high speed trains after riding one in France and was impressed by the speed and efficiency.

“You could live in Houston and go to (Texas) A&M (University) and back on the train or go to Dallas,” he said.

During a transportation meeting hosted by the chamber in April, business owners said they were skeptical of the plan to join the two cities through the high speed train.

Texas Central, the company behind the project, is planning to build 240 miles of tracks so that two trains traveling 205-miles per hour can make the trip between both cities in about 90 minutes.

The project is estimated to cost $12 billion and would seek private investors to fund the construction.

As no high speed rail exists in the U.S., Texas Central would employ a Japanese-style Shinkansen bullet trains, along with Renfe, a Spanish company, to operate the trains.

Hagy said the company acknowledged that the property acquisition process was one of the most controversial aspects of the project, which is currently being disputed in court.

“All of our routes are really trying to minimize the impact on private property. Because we are not a government entity, we can pay more for appraised or market value (for properties),” he said.

Texas Central is seeking to construct a raised track along the proposed route so that property owners along rural areas can still move their livestock as well as to minimally impact wildlife.

Maxwell said he understood that some property owners were reluctant to sell their property.

“It’s like someone walking and knocking on your door and saying, ‘I want to buy your house.’ You get to name your price. To me, that’s a benefit,” he said.

Maxwell said he is on board with the project as he and his staff have to travel to Dallas to work. He even created a Twitter account called Texans4HighSpeedRail.

As the population in both cities is expected to grow, the train may also get commuters out of cars and provide an alternative to airplanes.

Art Barash, an investment adviser with Baron Financial Advisors in Spring, said he was also excited about the project, but hoped newer technology would be utilized in Houston so that commuters could have an easier time getting around.

The major corridors, such as the Katy Freeway, the North Freeway and U.S. 290 could benefit from rail transport, he said.

“I’m in favor of the train. I’m more in favor of the technology being applied in Houston,” he said.

mayra.cruz@chron.com