Thursday, May 3, 2012

Private company trying to raise money for Texas HSR

Texas Central Railway attempting to raise $10 billion for Dallas-Fort Worth to Houston


FORT WORTH (CBSDFW.COM) – Imagine heading from North Texas to Houston on a train doing more than 200 miles an hour. The concept of making the trip, on the ground, in 90 minutes, could soon be a reality.
Robert Eckels is the head of Texas Central Railway and says the trip could be possible in less than a decade.
Texas Central Railway is raising private investments to try and fund a $10 billion high-speed rail system connecting the metroplex with Houston and San Antonio.
“We are not looking for a government subsidy on this project,” explained Eckels, “that’s one of the key elements to make this project work and is distinguished from others is that we would be a privately operated system.”
...
If and when the high-speed train comes to fruition officials with Texas Central Railway say ticket prices would be about 70-percent of an airline ticket from North Texas to the Houston area.
If a group of investors commit to the high-speed rail the operation could be up and running by 2020.

Now, I do have good deal of reservation about this. The first is that there is no record I can find online of a "Texas Central Railway,"though it isn't unheard of for some of these organizations not to have a web presence. The second is the emphasis on speeds of 200 miles per hour or more. This raises up the construction costs tremendously and with it, my third degree of reservation, the difficulty of finding private financing on such a large scale for an operation which, quite frankly, has only a limited amount of return on investment. It's better, in my opinion, for a system like this to start off with 110mph track, ideally sharing established track or right of way as much as possible. While Union Pacific is unlikely to be willing to cooperate in such a manner, BNSF also has a line from Dallas to Houston, which has the added advantage of being somewhat more direct, and if I've read the density map right, it is not completely chocked with freight trains, unlike the UP lines.

On the other hand, if they can stick to a 90 minute timeframe, while they'll be competing with 65 minute flights, that's a closer time gap than the Acela or CAHSR faces and against what looks like a higher base fare (looking at fares from May 27-June 30, they remain at $118 the entire time), allowing for greater revenue with lower operating costs.

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