The proposed high-speed railway between Houston and Dallas recently took a big step toward coming to fruition.
Texas Central, the Dallas-based company behind the bullet train project, received a favorable ruling from Texas’ 13th Court of Appeals on May 7. The appellate court held that Texas Central is “both a railroad company and interurban electric railway,” giving it the right to use eminent domain as the company attempts to secure the land necessary for its 240-mile railway.
Texans Against High-Speed Rail, which represents property owners along the proposed route, announced May 8 that it would appeal the ruling to the Texas Supreme Court.
Texas Central said last fall that it had secured about 30 percent of the land it would need to construct an elevated railway for the nation’s first high-speed train. Last week’s ruling overturned a previous ruling by a judge in rural Leon County who said Texas Central was not a railroad and thus did not have powers associated with them – such as eminent domain.
“This decision is rooted in state law that allows survey access and use of eminent domain by railroads, pipelines, electrical lines and other industries that provide for the public good and a strong economy,” Texas Central CEO Carlos Aguilar said in a news release.
The former Northwest Mall site near the intersection at U.S. 290 and Loop 610 is the planned Houston station for the bullet train project, which would take passengers between Texas’ two largest cities in a matter of about 90 minutes.
Despite the favorable court ruling, there remain multiple hurdles to clear before construction can begin as Texas Central also is awaiting approval from the federal government to move forward. The Federal Railroad Administration must issue a Final Environmental Impact Statement and devise a custom set of rules for the railway that would be used to ensure its safety and govern its system and operations.
Texas Central also laid off 28 employees in late March as it was hit by the economic downturn associated with the COVID-19 pandemic. Aguilar said at the time that the company, which has international investors and partners, could have its timeline delayed. Texas Central previously said it hoped to start construction by the end of 2020 and have the railway complete by 2026.