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Texas Central blasts SNCF's comments about Dallas-Houston bullet train

Texas Central wants to build a bullet train between North Texas and Houston.
Photo – Texas Central


Texas Central Partners officials are striking back at comments made last week by SNCF America Inc. about the private Texas-based company's plans to build a Dallas-to-Houston bullet train service.

In a statement issued in response to the Federal Railroad Administration's (FRA) draft environmental impact statement on Texas Central's proposal, SNCF officials claimed the project would "doom Texas' passenger-rail future." SNCF is the national operator of France's passenger rail service and a global operator of high-speed rail.

"The Texas Central Rail project has been designed around the best interest of a single company, not what is best for Texans or the state's rail transportation future," said SNCF America President and Chief Executive Officer Alain Leray in a press release that summarized the company's statement to the FRA.

Texas Central is a private developer that plans to construct a high-speed rail system based on Japan's Shinkansen N700 technology to transport passengers from Houston to North Texas in about 90 minutes.

SNCF officials also criticized the location of Texas Central's proposed network.

"If the federal government allows the Texas Central Rail project to move forward as proposed, it would likely close the door on the future of high-speed rail in communities like Austin, San Antonio, Waco and Temple, while placing huge risks on the shoulders of local, state and federal taxpayers," said Leray.

Moreover, SNCF questioned whether Texas Central's rail service would be financially viable.

"SNCF America is aware of only two high-speed systems in the world that cover infrastructure amortization with the revenues they generate," SNCF officials said. "These two systems (Tokyo-to-Osaka and Paris-to-Lyon) have low infrastructure amortization costs because they were built approximately a half-century ago. That is not reality in today's environment."

The French company also stated that the Draft EIS fails to address the "comparative advantages and disadvantages of high-speed (125-210 mph) versus higher-speed (max 125 mph) technologies for the Dallas-Houston corridor."

Texas Central officials slammed SNCF's comments.

"Of course, SNCF, the state-owned and heavily subsidized (at more than $16 billion a year) French National Railway would declare they are against competition and block the world's best high-speed train technology from coming to the U.S.," Texas Central officials said in an email. "Contrary to the European model, railroads in Texas are privately owned and operated, and meet the needs of the market, not top-down government plans. Rather than spend the amount of time and resources that Texas Central has invested over many years, the French State Railway is one of many competitors that would prefer to skip to the front of the line and thwart Texas Central’s progress."

Texas Central officials also disputed SNCF's position that Texas Central rail line would require public-sector investment and subsidies.

"This approach ignores Texas law and public sentiment and provides an ill-informed and thinly veiled attempt to appeal to the U.S. government to eliminate [SNCF's] competition, which is introducing high-speed train service between Houston and North Texas," they said.

The French national railway system doesn't "like competing with the Shinkansen system planned for Texas because of its safety design that has resulted in zero accidents or fatalities in over 53 years of operation," they added.

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

More News from 3/13/2018