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Bullet train from Dallas to Houston speeds toward environmental review

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1 Texas Central Rail high-speed train rail March 2014
The privately funded Texas Central Railway would connect DFW and Houston, cutting travel time to only 90 minutes. Photo of the N700 courtesy of © JR Central

The proposed high-speed train project between Dallas and Houston is about to cross into new territory. The much-discussed transportation option is finally headed for a major review, federal officials announced Wednesday.

The Federal Railroad Administration and the Texas Department of Transportation will prepare an Environmental Impact Statement examining the effects of construction and operation of a high-speed rail system. The statement will include an evaluation of the presumed method (a sealed high-speed rail corridor) as well as alternatives.

Texas Central High Speed Railway, a private company, has been developing plans for the train system since 2009. Using the same Japanese bullet train model as the one that connects Tokyo and Osaka, Texas Central says the train would reach speeds of 205 miles per hour and complete the Dallas-Houston route in just 90 minutes. The company plans to raise $10 billion in private capital to fund the line. 

Although Texas Central appears to be planning a route along existing north-south freight lines, others are exploring options along the state's highway system.

A UTA study released in 2013 recommends further detailed investigation into four corridors — I-45 from Houston to Dallas, I-20 between Dallas and Fort Worth, I-35 from DFW to Laredo (though San Antonio and Austin), and Route 6 from Houston to Waco (through College Station).

The Dallas-Houston rail, with its visions of being completed by 2021, is part of the U.S. High Speed Rail Association's proposed 14,000-mile, high-speed rail system that would connect dozens of the nation's major cities.

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