Dallas to Houston High-Speed Rail – Passenger Service from Houston to Dallas
Environmental Impact Statement
The Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) prepared an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) in compliance with the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) to assess the potential beneficial and adverse environmental impacts of FRA’s proposed rulemaking to enable effective safety oversight of the operation of a high-speed rail (HSR) system based on the Japanese N700-Series Tokaido Shinkansen technology that is described in a Petition for Rulemaking for a Rule of Particular Applicability (RPA) submitted by Texas Central Railroad, LLC (TCRR). TCRR’s petition for rulemaking contains TCRR’s proposal to construct and operate an approximately 240-mile, for-profit, HSR system connecting Dallas and Houston based on the Japanese N700-Series Tokaido Shinkansen technology (the Project).
On March 10, 2020, FRA published a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM), proposing a set of minimum Federal safety standards to enable effective safety oversight of the operation of TCRR’s HSR system within the United States. NEPA requires issuance of a Record of Decision (ROD) in order to complete the EIS process, which must be done prior to or concurrent with issuance of a final rule.
As part of the NEPA process, FRA completed an independent evaluation of potential HSR corridor alternatives and determined that the Utility Corridor is the only feasible end-to-end corridor alternative. FRA’s Alternatives Analysis Technical Report documents the potential HSR corridor alternatives that were evaluated, and describes FRA’s screening process.
Following a comprehensive analysis of major corridors proposed for the project, FRA identified six draft alignment alternatives for further evaluation in the Draft EIS.
Through the natural progression of the NEPA process, FRA narrowed the focus of its environmental analysis in its Alignments Alternatives Analysis Report. FRA evaluated 22 potential route alternatives within five major geographical areas using environmental constraints screening criteria, as required by NEPA. As part of the EIS, the environmental and social impacts of various alternative HSR route alignments were analyzed including possible routes that share corridors with an existing rail line and along electric utility lines. TCRR’s proposed HSR line would operate on a dedicated right-of-way and would not share track or infrastructure with existing trains or rail lines. In addition, the EIS analyzed the potential impacts of stations, power or fueling stations, and maintenance facilities to support HSR operations.
FRA released the Final EIS on May 29, 2020, and accepted public comments on the Draft Section 106 Programmatic Agreement (Appendix L of Final EIS) through July 28, 2020.
On September 10, 2020, FRA issued a final rule that establishes safety standards for the TCRR HSR system. The final rule is not intended for general application in the railroad industry, but applies only to the TCRR system. The TCRR HSR system will operate from Houston to Dallas, on dedicated track, with no grade crossings, at speeds not to exceed 330 km/h (205 mph). The TCRR rolling stock, track, and core systems will replicate the Tokaido Shinkansen HSR system operated by the Central Japan Railway Company, and will be used exclusively for revenue passenger service.
FRA’s ROD for the Dallas to Houston HSR Environmental Impact Statement is contained in the final rule.
The ROD attachments can be accessed via the links below.
- United States Fish and Wildlife Service Biological Opinion
- Programmatic Agreement
- Errata and Updated Information
- Mitigation Commitments
FRA Point of Contact
Environmental Review Process contact:
Kevin Wright, Environmental Protection Specialist
Media Queries contact:
More information on the train system is available at TCR’s website: https://www.texascentral.com/
The U.S. Permitting Dashboard is an online tool for Federal agencies, project sponsors, and interested members of the public to track the Federal government’s environmental review and authorization processes for large or complex infrastructure projects. The Dashboard is part of a government-wide effort to improve coordination, transparency, and accountability. A link to this project’s page on the Dashboard is below.