High speed rail could connect major Texas cities

AUSTIN -- As Texas' population continues to grow, transportation not just in Central Texas, but across the state is becoming more of an issue.

A privately funded company is working to connect Houston and Dallas with a high speed rail, similar to Japan's bullet train.

High speed trains whiz commuters to major cities across Japan, and in Europe, at about 200 mph.

It's an idea bandied about for decades in Texas, but it's proven too expensive.

The price?

Billions. Some estimates show it could cost $60 to $90 million per mile. A Texas-based company is working to make it real by 2021.

"We believe the market will support this project," said Robert Eckels. "We have investors and lenders who believe that as well; we're not seeking state or federal grants or operating subsidies."

Texas Central High Speed Railway is already conducting environmental studies. They plan to start building the route from Dallas to Houston by 2017.

The trip would take about 90 minutes. Eckels calls it a game changer for Texas.

The High Speed Rail Commission, a group of 7 people hired by TxDOT to look at the feasibility of other corridors, came out in support of TxDOT's application to do an environmental study from Fort Worth to Austin.

"The public's acceptance of these types of transportation modes is starting to change, and we're seeing that in the use of vehicles transit systems, and the request from the public for things like high speed rail," said John Barton, deputy executive director TxDOT.

A potential corridor map shows a bullet train could connect all of Texas' major cities, with possible expansion into Oklahoma City and Mexico.


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