IRVING The leaders of Texas Central High-Speed Railway sound very confident for a company expecting to succeed where scores of state planners, elected officials and private interests have failed.
The firm hopes to have bullet trains moving Texans at 205 miles per hour between Dallas-Fort Worth and Houston by 2020.
The bit that has raised eyebrows: The company plans to do it without seeking public financing.
We are not the traditional state-run railroad, Robert Eckels, the company s president and a former Harris County judge, said at a high-speed rail forum in Irving on Tuesday. This is designed to be a profitable high-speed rail system that will serve the people of these two great cities and in between and, ultimately, the whole state of Texas.
Backing the Texas-based company is a group led by Central Japan Railway Company, which handles more than 100 million passengers each year on its bullet trains in Japan.
They re spending real money on high-speed rail to try and get things done, said Gary Fickes, chairman of the Texas High-Speed Rail and Train Corporation, a nonprofit coalition of public and private leaders that for years has been advocating for a high-speed rail system in Texas. I think they re the real deal.
While the project is generating enthusiasm, Eckels acknowledged he s also heard from plenty of skeptics who predict he will eventually ask for billions of dollars in public support. But Eckels said his investors would likely walk away from a project that couldn t stand on its own.
If we start taking the federal money, it takes twice as long, costs twice as much, Eckels said. My guess is we d end up pulling the plug on it.
Previous efforts to bring high-speed rail to Texas have crumbled amid quarrels about public financing and opposition from airlines and other groups. While even a privately funded project would have to work with federal, state and local agencies, the company s shunning of public money is drawing strong initial interest.