Texas Central President and CEO Carlos Aguilar, appearing on an online high-speed rail presentation by Rail Passengers Association, indicated that when their trains run between Dallas and Houston they can actually add energy back into the Texas electric grid through regenerative braking.
"Some naysayers have said that we would contribute to the failure of the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) power grid since we would consume so much electricity running trains but that is not the case," according to Aguilar. The Texas Central Railway (TCR) chief referred to comments made by high-speed rail opponents after the February blackout that affected many homes and businesses throughout the state for four days.
Aguilar said that ERCOT has a generating capacity of 800,000 megawatts and that each train, at most, would consume 12 megawatts. With the rail system running at capacity it is expected to only draw 86 to 100 megawatts. When a Texas Central train would put on its brakes, regenerative braking could put 10 megawatts per train back into the state grid.
Texas Central is an investor-led company undertaking the development, design, construction, finance, and operation of the high-speed passenger train line that will connect two of the largest economies in the country, North Texas and the Houston region. Last year TCR scored major milestones in approvals from the Federal Railroad Administration with environmental and route approval. The company's last major hurdle will be approval from the Surface Transportation Board in Washington.
The timeline listed on the TexasCentral.com website indicates that construction is anticipated to start this year, with testing and commissioning of the line in 2025 and commercial revenue service to begin in 2026. The 240 mile long rail line, the longest to be built in the U.S. in decades, would whisk passengers between Houston and Dallas in just 90 minutes at speeds up to 200 miles per hour. The technology is based on Japanese technology, with over a half-century of safe operation.
"I've heard that people in Texas just won't ride trains". That comment during the Rail Passengers online presentation was made by U.S. Congressman Seth Moulton who served on Texas Central staff during its formative years. "Carlos is going to prove them wrong." Moulton, from Massachusetts, has rolled a bill in Congress to establish a high-speed rail plan for the U.S.
Aguilar pointed out that the massive construction project will require 10 million cubic yards of concrete worth $1 billion dollars, half a billion dollars in rebar, 1,100 miles of steel rail, among other materials, with 17,000 construction jobs during the buildout and 1,500 direct jobs once operational. The Texas Central chief said that the project will require a $20-24 billion dollar capital investment.
"We've gone with the best two companies for on-time performance to operate our system, Adif and Refee." Aguilar said. Those Spanish-based companies will be responsible for the operation of trains once construction is completed.
The Rail Passengers high-speed rail presentation is available at railpassengers.org/webinars