AUSTIN – On Feb. 21, State Representative Leighton Schubert (R-Caldwell), along with several members of the Texas House and Senate, filed legislation intended to stop a Houston to Dallas high-speed rail project proposed by a group of Japanese investors. A recent independent study by the Reason Foundation shows that despite Texas Central Rail's claims that the project will be exclusively privately funded, the proposed project will lose over $537 million a year over its first 40 years of operation, and runs the risk of needing a public bail-out.
"This group of foreign investors is threatening to seize family farms, physically divide the state of Texas, and have a gravely detrimental impact on the citizens I represent," said State Representative Leighton Schubert (R-Caldwell). "At a minimum, the people of Texas deserve reasonable reassurances that their private property rights will be respected and that they will not be left holding the bag if this ill-conceived project fails."
The Reason Foundation recently conducted a study on the feasibility of constructing Texas Central's proposed high-speed rail line and issued a report. "While we strongly support privately constructed high-speed rail, particularly in the Northeast, we cannot support Texas Central’s proposed Dallas to Houston project. In spite of their large and growing populations, Dallas and Houston are poster children for big cities where high-speed rail has no chance of succeeding without public funding unless land use and transit patterns change dramatically. Based on our experience and analysis we are concerned that Texas Central’s project will fail so spectacularly that privately financed U.S. high-speed rail lines may never be given a second chance," said the Reason report.
Legislation by Representative Schubert includes:
HB 2167 (Put Texas First): prohibits any state money from being used for any purpose related to a privately owned high-speed rail, unless the state acquires and maintains a lien in order to secure the repayment of state money. This lien will be superior to all other liens, effectively making Texas a priority creditor.
HB 2168 (TXDOT Determination Before Surveys): prohibits land surveyors from entering a property (land or water) to make an examination or survey for a proposed high-speed rail facility unless the Texas Department of Transportation has determined the entity is a railroad company.
HB 2169 (Security Requirements): requires a high-speed rail operator to implement safety and security regulations and guidelines in the same manner that is required by federal law for Amtrak, including providing on-board security for the entire rail line and operating security screening stations.