Will High-Speed Rail Development In Texas Benefit California?

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The planned 240-mile Texas Central high-speed rail line between Dallas and Houston seems to be coming along well, with it looking increasingly likely that Texas will be the first in North America to become home to an “all high-speed” rail line.


In other words, it’s now looking very likely that Texas will beat California to the punch (service is now expected to begin within 5 years). Could this possibly be a good thing (from California’s perspective)? Potentially helping to “improve the funding and economics of California’s system?” That’s the question posed in a recent article published on Planetizen.

Furthermore, could a high-speed rail system in Texas encourage high speed rail manufacturing in the United States?


Riffing on the subject, and paraphrasing a recent article from Ethan Elkind, that coverage goes: “local production would help California obtain domestically sourced (and possibly cheaper) parts and supplies, which would allow the state to comply more fully with federal funding requirements and therefore secure more such funding. … Finally, Texas’ experience could potentially inspire some improvements to California’s system design. Because California’s is primarily a government-funded system, the route has to satisfy various political constituencies. But with a privately funded system, the Texas train is all about the economics, in terms of speed and service between the most populated areas.”


Continuing: “Elkind may be overly optimistic about the positive spillover effects of success by Texas Central. Here’s a September 8 progress report on the Texas project from Greenwire reporter, Nathanial Gronewold: ‘Texas Central aims to finish a draft environmental impact statement by December. Construction could begin by late 2017 if its funding is realized. Alon Levy, author of the popular transit blog Pedestrian Observations, says the full project would be financed by a combination of debt, equity, government loans (e.g., private activity bonds) and possible low-interest lending support from the Japan Bank for International Cooperation. He likened it to financing structures used to build private toll freeways.'”


I’m skeptical that the Texas Central project will lead to any real improvements in the situation of the Californian project. There are so many problems with the Californian high-speed rail project that something as relatively insignificant as the success of a rather different project in Texas wouldn’t actually matter, as far as I can tell.


With regard to local manufacturing, though, there’s another point to make: The investments being made and that will potentially be made by entities in Japan and China aren’t without their strings. These investments are being made because the entities in question see the possibility of growth and expansion into the American market. Local manufacturing of the sort alluded to above (cheaper parts and supplies) wouldn’t factor into that. The motive of the investments is profit … for those on the other side of the world.

Images via Texas Central

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James Ayre

James Ayre's background is predominantly in geopolitics and history, but he has an obsessive interest in pretty much everything. After an early life spent in the Imperial Free City of Dortmund, James followed the river Ruhr to Cofbuokheim, where he attended the University of Astnide. And where he also briefly considered entering the coal mining business. He currently writes for a living, on a broad variety of subjects, ranging from science, to politics, to military history, to renewable energy.

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