Could Texas be getting high-speed rail train?

Texas Central Partners in development phase

By Aaron Wische - Senior Executive Producer, Bill Balleza - Anchor

HOUSTON - Its official name is the ‘Tokaido Shinkansen,’ but Texans may know it as the famous Japanese bullet train.

Texas Central Partners is a private group that wants to bring the high-speed rail to Texas.

The company gave KPRC 2 News' partners at NBC in Dallas an exclusive tour of the bullet train operations in Japan.

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The train Texas would get is called the N700-A. It's been in service for two years. The Texas train would be half as long as those in Japan and would carry 400 people.

The trains travels at 186 mph, which is the exact speed a train between Houston and Dallas would travel.

Eventually, the Texas trains would run even faster at more than 200 mph.

The Japanese are perhaps most proud of the train's safety record. In five decades, no passenger has ever died or been injured in a Japanese bullet train accident.

Hundreds of thousands of Japanese ride high-speed rail every day.

Tickets come via a kiosk, just like you'd see in a big U.S. city subway system. But a Texas rail line could use a smartphone app to buy tickets.

People relax or work in airline-style seats. There's power and WiFi and lots of overhead storage.

“It's easier than getting on the plane or driving,” passenger Philip Silverman said.

“It was pretty great. It was like a first-class airplane ride,” passenger Alexandra Foster said.

The plan is already in the works to make bullet trains a reality in Texas.

“Now we're in the development phase, making the dream a reality,” Texas Central Partners CEO Tim Keith said.

The train would link Dallas and Houston, with a stop in Grimes County to serve the College Station area.

Much of the path would follow utility lines, allowing for faster speeds. Trains would leave every half hour, and they'd run seven days a week. But some people want to slam the brakes on the plan.

Kyle Workman is the president of Texans Against High-Speed Rail. He lives in Leon County. Workman said he fears Texas Central Partners will use eminent domain to take private property for the project.

“I truly believe that this project is not good for Texas,” Workman said. “There's not enough money in the world for some of these people. It's (a) priceless property for them.”

Grimes County Judge Ben Leman, who is also with Texans Against High-Speed Rail, said the train would race right down the middle of his county.

“It would create a huge barrier that would prevent access across this rail,” Leman said.

Texas Central Partners is promising plenty of places to cross under the tracks for both animals and people.

“Not only will we commit to provide access to landowners, but it's our responsibility,” Keith said.

And then there's the issue of peace and quiet for Texans who treasure the countryside. A high-speed train does makes a lot of noise. The debate is over how much noise is acceptable.

State lawmakers may ultimately decide if the train will in fact arrive in Texas.

“This is such a transformational opportunity for Texas,” Keith said.
 

2015 Click2Houston/KPRC2