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SNCF America, Texas Central trade barbs over bullet-train proposal

A computer rendering of the Texas Central bullet train, which will operate on dedicated, elevated track.
Photo – Texas Central Partners


SNCF America Inc. this week blasted Texas Central Partners for securing a $300 million loan with Japanese backing for the company's proposed project to build a bullet-train service between Dallas and Houston.

In a prepared statement issued Monday, SNCF officials questioned whether Texas Central would be able to build the project without government help. A private company, Texas Central has long said it will not use government funds to pay for the project.

SNCF, which operates the high-speed rail system in France, noted that the debt holders of Texas Central's new loan are the Japan Bank for International Cooperation and the Japan Overseas Infrastructure Investment Corp. for Transport and Urban Development.

"Two Japanese-government agencies are supporting an attempt to corner the market with technology that lacks interoperability and creates a monopoly on the future of Texas high-speed rail," said SNCF spokesman Scott Dunaway. "This project is right for Japanese companies subsidized by Japanese taxpayers and wrong for Texas. Nowhere in the world have high-speed rail projects become reality without government participation."

Dunaway added that the "flawed design of this particular project will likely eliminate future rail service along the Interstate-35 growth corridor for generations."

In response to SNCF's comments, Texas Central officials said nothing is preventing SNCF from developing its own rail system in Texas.

"SNCF doesn't understand how free-market capitalism works in Texas because they are a government-owned monopoly in France," Texas Central said in a prepared statement. "Its state-owned approach and overextended unprofitable network demands immediate restructuring. SNCF and its industrial partners don't want competition in the United States nor do they offer to invest in bringing high-speed service here."

The bullet train would use Shinkansen technology, which is the "safest train technology in the world," Texas Central officials added.

"We will continue moving ahead in our design and environmental solutions to serve Texans, while SNCF and other naysayers criticize from outside the fence looking in," they said.

This week was the second time SNCF criticized Texas Central's plans. In May, SNCF questioned the bullet-train proposal in response to the Federal Railroad Administration's draft environmental impact statement on the project.

In addition, SNCF America has called on Texas lawmakers to consider its plan for developing the I-35 corridor with "higher-speed rail" rather than Texas Central's bullet-train service, The Dallas Morning News reported.

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

More News from 9/19/2018