September 30, 2023 - TRA Newswire -
(editor's note: Texas Rail Advocates addresses and debunks the letter. See below)
Two U.S. Congressman from Texas don't want to see a penny of proposed passenger rail funding used for grants to build a high-speed rail link between the Dallas-Fort Worth area and Houston.
In a Sept. 28 letter to the Federal Railroad Administration, Republicans Rep. Jake Ellzey and Rep. Michael McCaul said a joint grant application between Amtrak and Texas Central Railway should be rejected because of the potential use of federal backed funding.
This follows an announcement in August when Amtrak and TCR announced a potential partnership to revive the stalled bullet train project. The project finally got the nod from the Texas Supreme Court last year that grants the railroad eminent domain rights to acquire a narrow strip of land 240 miles long to connect the two mega-regions by fast train. The FRA had previously green-lighted Texas Central on the approved right-of-way.
Texas Central, a private company, had previously said it might require Private Activity Bonds (PABs), issued by or on behalf of the government for part of their project. PAB's have been issued for many projects that carry special financing benefits. The Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA) signed into law in November 2021 increased the available PAB authority from $15 billion to $30 billion.
The letter to FRA Administrator Amit Bose, opposes the proposed North Central Texas Council of Governments’ FY22 Corridor Identification Program application and three applications to the Federal Railroad Administration, submitted jointly by Amtrak and Texas Central Railroad.
Elzey and McCaul had previously filed objections trying to kill the high-speed TCR project, which is expected to run trains at 200 miles per hour on a 90-minute trip between Dallas and Houston. McCaul had even voted against funding for Amtrak's conventional national network that serves the Austin station within his district, and other nearby rural Texas towns. Ellzey has towed his party's line in voting against funding for Amtrak's Texas Eagle and Sunset Limited, even with a station serving McGregor/Waco, just outside his district boundary.