March 3, 2024 - TRA Newswire -

He's regarded as a transport executive who knows how to get projects done and maybe that's just what is needed to get the long-delayed high-speed rail project between Dallas and Houston going.

Andy Byford, whose career has spanned three decades and three continents, is Amtrak's recently hired Senior Vice President of High Speed Rail Development Programs. Byford will be speaking at the Hurst Conference Center during the 20th Annual Southwestern Rail Conference in the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex on April 16th.

Observers are hoping that Byford will bring news of a potential agreement or better between Amtrak and Texas Central Railway, the company that started plans for the 240-mile high-speed train service between the two mega-regions over a decade ago.

TCR had been fighting lawsuits from rural lawmakers since its start, was virtually shut down during the pandemic and laid off all but a handful of staff. Unfortunately, right after its board of directors disbanded in 2022 the Texas Supreme Court belatedly agreed that the company had eminent domain authority to acquire the narrow strip of land needed to run trains between the two cities. That was several months too late after directors stepped down and Texas Central, now led by Michael Bui of Houston, became radio silent since late 2022.  

news release from Amtrak, September 9, 2023 announced that both companies were "exploring opportunities," and that perked up the ears of observers who has thought the project was headed down a dark hole. 

In December 2023, along comes Amtrak, the recipient of a half-million dollar planning grant from the Federal Railroad Administration to explore the development of the high-speed Dallas to Houston rail line. The grant was part of the FRA's Corridor Identification and Development Program. 

This has led to a lot of speculation that the $20+ billion project may be getting back on track. Byford's presentation at the conference will be the first time that Amtrak will make a public statement in Texas about the high-speed rail project. 

Prior to joining Amtrak Byford was hired as Transport for London Commissioner to get the $22 billion Elizabeth Line open. The "Lizzie" line, as locals call it, is a heavily used rail route that has dramatically cut travel time across London since its opening in May 2022. He directed the project during the pandemic and helped stabilize the project's finances during those tough times. 

Called "Train Daddy" by supporters during his time as President of New York City Transit, he managed to make the web of subway lines in the Big Apple run more efficiently than in the past. The New York subway system is the busiest and largest transit system in the U.S. 

Byford joined London Underground in 1989 as a uniformed Station Foreman before working his way up to General Manager of the Bakerloo, Central and Victoria Lines. 

After a spell as Operations and Safety Director of two UK mainline train operating companies, his career took him to Sydney as Chief Operating Officer of Australia‚Äôs largest railway network, then on to Canada where he headed up the Toronto Transit Commission

Byford grew up in Plymouth, England and is a graduate of the University of Leicester.


Registration information for the Southwestern Rail Conference can be found at https://www.texasrailadvocates.org/events/2024-southwestern-rail-conference/



Photo credit: Amtrak