County Judge Wants Amtrak to Connect Austin and Dallas

The trip from Fort Worth to Austin would be under 90 minutes

An Amtrak train (Photo by Getty Images)

High-speed transit could finally come to Central Texas in the next few years, as Amtrak announced Wednesday its plans to get in on the long-anticipated bullet train from Dallas to Houston. Travis County Judge Andy Brown wants it to come here too.

After years of legal squabbles and slowed land acquisition, Amtrak is now working with Texas Central, the company set to build the train, to solicit federal grants and get the project running again.

Judge Brown quickly followed with a press release requesting that Travis County be included as a stop on the planned 240-mile route from Dallas to Houston. The current proposed route includes Ft. Worth and College Station stops, but Brown wants to see it extend from College Station through Austin on its way to San Antonio. At a speed of up to 205 mph – Texas Central plans to use Japanese Shinkansen trains like the ones connecting Tokyo and Osaka – the travel time between Houston and Dallas would be less than 90 minutes. With a continuation through Travis County, travel from Ft. Worth to Austin could be the same, writes Brown.

Brown has also been exploring a connection between Austin and Monterrey/Nuevo Leon, Mexico. Monterrey Mayor Luis Donaldo Colosio Riojas and Nuevo Leon Governor Samuel Garcia have supported the idea, due to the “economic and partnership benefits” therein. As for the viability of a local stop, Texas Central’s website says it “does not have plans to extend its line to cities beyond its proposed North Texas-to-Houston corridor” but that the project does “create a backbone for possible future expansion into other cities.”

The bullet train, proposed in 2014, was originally supposed to be operational by 2020, but leadership changes and legal challenges over whether Texas Central had eminent domain authority (the Supreme Court ruled that it did) all but stopped land acquisition for the route in 2022. The partnership with Amtrak could revive it – Amtrak Senior Vice President of High-Speed Rail Development Programs Andy Byford said in the release, “If we are going to add more high-speed rail to this country, the Dallas to Houston Corridor is a compelling proposition and offers great potential.”

In order to add a Travis County stop, the next step would be an Environmental Impact Statement. The Federal Railroad Administration granted Texas Central environmental clearance in 2020 for its current proposed route.

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