For the longest time, US lags far behind most other countries in terms of rail travel offerings, and for many decades, the answer to increased travel demand has been to widen highways or increase flight frequencies.
And now, a privately funded rail company now aims to grab a piece of the pie when it comes to intra-Texas travel, which could directly or indirectly affect the three US airlines that have a huge presence in the said state.
The company called Texas Central is planning to build a bullet train route that will cut between Dallas and Houston, trimming about 2 hours off the average driving time, and saving over an hour compared to air travel.
Furthermore, the approximately 240-mile high-speed rail line will offer a total travel time of less than 90 minutes, with departures every 30 minutes during peak periods each day and every hour during off-peak periods — with 6 hours reserved each night for system maintenance and inspection.
The company also plans to deploy Central Japan Railway Company’s (JRC) “N700-I Bullet” high-speed rail system based on the “Shinkansen” system.
Looking at flights between Dallas (both DAL and DFW) and Houston (both HOU and IAH), airlines like American flies nine daily round-trips from DFW to IAH and six to HOU, while United flies nine round-trips each weekday between DFW and IAH.
Meanwhile, since 1971 when Southwest was established, the DAL and HOU routed has been their bread and butter.
As of now, Southwest flies twenty round-trips each weekday between DAL and HOU.
Reaching out for a comment over the proposal, American said, they have no position on it.
While, Southwest has a colorful response.
According to its spokesperson Chris Mainz, Southwest didn’t really have any feelings on the matter but that, “Texas already enjoys a very robust ‘high speed’ transportation system and it departs Dallas Love Field 20 times a day for Houston [Hobby Airport (HOU)].”
“It’s also important to note that Southwest is an entirely different airline than when it objected to the first proposal decades ago. Its size has nearly doubled, and it’s added dozens of destinations, so if a tiny fraction of its passengers on one route defect to the train, it won’t badly hurt the airline,” Mainz said.
As press time, United did not respond to our request for comment.
Texas Central estimates the need for each train to hold about 400 passengers, which would amount to eight train cars.
In comparison, between Tokyo and Osaka, Japan Railway Company operates 16-car trains.