Bullet train to speed into Texas

The new Texas Bullet train will utilize the train technology of the Japanese Shinkansen N700-I train, according to Holly Reed, managing director of external affairs at Texas Central Partners, LLC. Photo credit: Courtesy Photo

By Megan Rule | Staff Writer

Travel time between the Houston metro area and the North Texas metro area will be significantly reduced due to a new form of transportation, the Texas Bullet Train.

According to the Texas Bullet Train website, project construction could begin as early as late 2018.

“Right now, Texas engineers, architects and environmental experts are designing and planning construction of the Texas Bullet Train,” Holly Reed, managing director of external affairs at Texas Central Partners, LLC, wrote in an email to the Lariat. “The designs and specifications these experts are developing support the ongoing regulatory approval process.”

Studies on the bullet train show that in addition to significant time savings, the bullet train will offer extensive ridership potential, according to a Texas Central press release. Nearly 12.8 million people live within an hour of a proposed bullet train station, according to the Texas Central website. The study of the market size demonstrated a strong demand for a high-speed train. Almost 25 percent of all trips between North Texas and Houston are expected to be on the bullet train by 2026, which is nearly 5 million passengers, according to the press release.

“The ridership study by L.E.K. Consulting was conducted to provide a window into the massive and growing market for the 90-minute, 240-mile trip between North Texas and Houston, with a midway stop in the Brazos Valley,” Reed wrote in an email. “Previous studies validated this strong demand, now we’re focused on learning what riders want in their bullet train and how this service can best meet the market’s demands. Texans want to save time when they travel, they want travel choice, and they want to improve their travel experience – and they’ve told us so.”

Traveling on the bullet train would be 70 minutes faster than traveling by car and 50 minutes faster than traveling by plane, according to the press release. In the study, 2,000 residents were surveyed, and over 80 percent said they would consider using the bullet train. Over 67 percent who have made the trip in the last 12 months would “definitely” use a high speed train on their next trip if it were an option, according to the press release.

According to a recent NBC-Miami article, there are 11 routes in the United States that are considering this technology. These include Florida, Texas, Colorado, Nevada and Missouri, in addition to some of the country’s most congested regions such as Los Angeles-San Diego, Seattle-Portland and Reno-Las Vegas.

“It sounds like a cool plan. I’ll definitely consider it because it will cut down time,” said Scottsdale, Ariz., freshman Haley Everroad. “It will also be good for the environment because it will put down CO2 emissions if more and more people use it.”

Reed said the bullet train will have a dramatically positive impact on the Texas economy. The bullet train is expected to generate over $36 billion in economic impact over the next 25 years, though the development and construction of the rail line, maintenance facilities, passenger stations and facilities. The bullet train is expected to create 10,000 direct jobs a year through construction and will employ about 1,000 full time employees once finished, Reed said. The bullet train will also provide permanent tax base revenue, benefitting the state and local economies in all ten counties along the route.

“The bullet train technology coming to Texas is proven to be the safest, most reliable and comfortable high-speed train system in the world,” Reed wrote in an email. “This system has operated for over 50 years in Japan and has never had a crash, a perfect track record of zero passenger fatalities or injuries due to train accidents.”

In addition to the economic and user-friendly benefits the train brings, it will also be environmentally friendly. Reed said along the train’s projected route, four counties already have air quality non-attainment status. Since this project reduces congestion, the electric-powered trains will provide a cleaner alternative that will help contribute to better air quality over time, Reed said.

“It is exciting to bring this transformational project to Texans, who are demanding a safe, productive and reliable transportation alternative between North Texas and Houston,” Reed wrote in an email. “The bullet train will do for transportation what broadband did for communications: provide on-demand, very high-speed transportation over long distances.”