A private company that plans to build a high-speed rail line connecting Dallas and Houston raised $75 million in private funds from Texas investors and named a new CEO on Wednesday.
Texas Central, a for-profit development company, which is aiming to construct and operate Texas’s first high-speed passenger railway between Dallas and Houston will be led by Tim Keith, who led a global infrastructure investment firm and is a former Hunt Realty Investments executive, the Dallas Morning News reports.
Representatives from Texas Central said the $75 million raised for development of the high speed rail shows that businesses see the project’s “transformational opportunity.”
“It’s Texans investing in Texas,” Keith said.
“I think the fact that we’ve been able to go to the marketplace and raise $75 million to get high-speed rail going is extraordinary,” Tom Schieffer, a senior adviser to the high-speed rail project told the Star Telegram. “For me it’s proof in the pudding that we can raise the capital needed to do this with a private company. If we can get this train built in Texas and financed privately, I think it is going to be transformational not only to the state but the country.”
The railway company is working with Central Japan Railway – Japan’s bullet trains operate at up to 200 miles an hour – to debut the company's bullet train technology in Texas and cut the travel time between the two metropolitan areas to 90 minutes.
The federal government, which must approve any new passenger rail system, is now conducting environmental impact study of the project.
According to the paper, the project has generated buzz among officials. Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings and Houston Mayor Annise Parker released statements this morning heralding the project.
There has been opposition to the new railway proposal from groups mainly representing landowners between Dallas and Houston, who say the high speed rail would cut through their lands with little or no economic benefit. One such group, Texans Against High-Speed Rail, has created a website that allows Texas families opposed to the project to tell their stories.
On the website rancher Rhonda Page Jordan writes, "This is our home Texas Central Railway threatens to take. Loss of income due to loss of acreage for pasture and hay, with no way to recover loss of property value or use, are unnecessary losses." Among the damages she says the rail project will cause she lists: "Disruption of human lives, domestic livestock and wildlife, change in water flow and retention, and decimation of grazing pastures".