The highly anticipated and controversial Houston-to-Dallas bullet train line has been delayed once again.
Yep, that's right. Texas Central Partners, the private company that plans to construct a high-speed rail line that will zip passengers between Houston and Dallas on trains departing every 30 minutes, has sort of announced that the line's start date has once again been delayed by a year.
We say "sort of" because news of the changed start date was sandwiched into a talk that Marvalette Hunter, a project coordinator with Texas Central Partners, gave last Wednesday at the Commercial Real Estate Women luncheon at the Junior League in Houston.
"We're creating a new technology that doesn’t exist anywhere else in the U.S.," Hunter told the audience, according to the Houston Business Journal, explaining how the bullet trains will tote up to 400 people between Houston and Dallas in just 90 minutes — once the trains start running in 2023, that is.
This isn't the first time Texas Central has oh-so-casually delayed the start date for the high-speed rail line.
The project has been in the works since 2010, celebrated by people in the cities who want the convenience of the train and decried by people in the places in between who don't want the railroad running on their land, as we chronicled in our 2015 cover story, "On the Line". Back in 2015, the plan was that construction was due to begin this year and the bullet train would start up in 2021.
Then, a couple of months ago, at the same time that Texas Central got a new CEO and reshuffled its leadership, the company website was altered to say that the bullet train would start running in 2022, as we then noted.
Now Texas Central won't break ground and begin construction on the project until 2018, the line won't run at all until 2023 and it won't be fully operational until 2024, Hunter told the audience according to the HBJ.
A Texas Central representative blamed the newest delay on various factors that are outside of the company's control, particularly federal regulators. "When these processes are complete, the timelines will become more solidified," the spokesperson told the HBJ. "Until then, timelines represent the best estimates for milestones, many of which the company doesn’t control.”
However, a previous statement from the company statement also notes Texas Central is still waiting on the environmental impact statement from the Federal Railroad Administration.
Anyway, no matter who is to blame — or who is getting the blame — the end result is the same: Texas Central definitely (probably, maybe, most likely) has plans to build a Houston-to-Dallas high-speed rail line.
Correction, 4:22 p.m.: An earlier version of this story misspelled the name of Marvalette Hunter and has been updated to include her job title. The article also incorrectly stated that Texas Central Partners was only waiting on an environmental impact study from the FRA.
Keep the Houston Press Free... Since we started the Houston Press, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Houston, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Houston with no paywalls.