The Project

Texas Central Railway Narrows Its Focus to a Single High-Speed Rail Corridor


About TCR

Texas Central High-Speed Railway (TCR) is a private, Texas-based company promoting the development of high-speed passenger rail between Houston and Dallas. The deployment of the same safe, efficient, comfortable and fast high- speed rail technology that boasts the world’s safest record after more than 50 years of flawless operation in Japan will transform the way business travelers and families alike move between the state’s largest metropolitan areas. Formed in 2010, a primary purpose of TCR is to secure environmental and technological regulatory approvals required to advance subsequent phases of the project. For more information about TCR, please contact Travis Kelly at TKelly@texascentral.com.

Dallas – February 17, 2015 – Texas Central High-Speed Railway (TCR) today informed the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) that it recommends narrowing the consideration of potential high-speed rail corridors between Houston and Dallas to a single preferred corridor known generally as the Utility Corridor. TCR has concluded the Utility Corridor is best suited to satisfy the goals of the project to provide reliable, safe and economically viable high-speed rail service between Dallas and Houston using the N700-I Bullet System technology.

TCR has spent several years identifying potential corridors for high-speed rail service between Dallas and Houston. To that end, TCR expended significant effort looking for solutions to engineering, construction and economic challenges associated with building high-speed rail in or along the existing Freight Corridor, and believes the Utility Corridor to be the superior alternative. Additionally, as TCR examines the various alternative alignments, one of the company’s goals is to reduce the project’s impact on communities and landowners to the extent practicable by using existing rights of way. TCR will recommend inclusion of an alternative involving the I-10 corridor as a potential approach to downtown Houston and looks forward to working with the City of Houston to evaluate this option.

TCR will now focus on potential alternatives keyed to the Utility Corridor that meet the business, environmental and connectivity priorities of the project and will submit additional information to the FRA for further detailed analysis during subsequent phases of the environmental review process.

Quotes:

“Texas Central has gone to great lengths to identify corridors that will have the least impact on local communities and meet our purpose and need. By informing the Federal Railroad Administration that we believe all ongoing studies and analysis should focus on identifying potential alignments within and associated with the Utility Corridor, we are staying true to our commitment to follow existing rights of way as much as possible. We will continue to work closely with communities to make this project a success that we can all be proud of.”
- Hon. Robert Eckels, President, Texas Central High-Speed Railway

“Today’s announcement indicates a clear commitment to develop the project in a way that is sensitive to the voices of our communities, and it gives me confidence that my request that the I-10 corridor be considered as a route for high-speed rail into Houston will receive a thorough review. I was an early supporter of high speed rail for Texas and believe it can be a significant addition to Houston’s transportation network. I look forward to continuing to work with the Texas Central Rail group to make it a success.”
- Annise Parker, Mayor of Houston

“I am excited about the progress that Texas Central Railway is making. High- speed rail will be a significant addition to Houston and the State of Texas. Houston is more than a big city, it’s a city where big visions become reality. I look forward to continuing to work with Texas Central to implement this transformational project.”
- Sylvester Turner, Texas State Representative

“Today’s announcement demonstrates that high-speed rail is on its way to becoming a reality in Texas. This private, for-profit effort will provide another travel option for the Houston-to-Dallas corridor, help reduce traffic congestion and create thousands of jobs, all without using the State’s limited transportation dollars. I look forward to working with TCR to maximize the benefits of this transformational technology for all Texans.”
- Allen Fletcher, Texas State Representative

“With this announcement, Texas Central Railway is demonstrating sensitivity to the concerns of Texans impacted by the high-speed rail system. Focusing on a single corridor eliminates much of the uncertainty surrounding the proposal, while providing those along that selected route time to plan and provide input to the company. I support the project as well as Mayor Parker’s proposal that the next route iteration include the train entering Houston through the I-10 corridor. This route will ensure the benefits of high-speed rail are accessible by all Houstonians with minimal impact to established, historical neighborhoods.”
- Jessica Farrar, Texas State Representative

Dallas Station Locations Page

Texas Central Railway (TCR) has announced two locations as TCR’s preferred candidate sites for the Dallas high-speed rail station:

  • One candidate terminal site is currently undeveloped land located in the South Side on Lamar area and includes the 10 to 20 acres of land TCR estimates is needed for the terminal station, parking and space for future transit oriented development.
  • The second candidate site would extend over Interstate 30 and includes a portion of the first candidate site as well as property next to the Dallas Convention Center.

As part of the federally mandated National Environmental Protection Act (NEPA) process, TCR originally identified seven areas as possible station locations in Dallas. TCR has not yet announced a preferred station location in Houston. The project’s NEPA process is still underway, and a variety of station locations are still under consideration, including an intermediate station serving Bryan/College Station and Huntsville.

TCR also confirmed that Texas Central Partners (TCP), an independent development company that will be responsible for the high-speed rail system’s design, finance, construction, operation and maintenance, has reached an agreement with Matthews Southwest to serve as the development partner of the Dallas high-speed rail station

More details are available here.

The Team

Texas Central High-Speed Railway is a U.S. company headquartered in Texas, with offices in Dallas, Houston and Washington DC. Our entire team is engaged with and responsible for collaborating with the cities, counties and communities along the project’s route.

Richard Lawless – Chairman and CEO
Drawing from extensive private and public sector experience in and between Asia and the United States, Richard has developed key relationships and perspectives critical to TCR’s success. From TCR’s Washington, DC office, Richard oversees, guides and directs TCR’s engagement with new and existing partners and manages overall project promotion.
Robert Eckels – President
Robert’s career in the public sector gives him a keen sense of what it takes to make large infrastructure projects a reality. As President, Robert is doing what he does best – bringing together potential investors and project partners, managing key relationships with community and elected officials and TCR’s current partners, while keeping the public and critical stakeholders informed of the project’s progress. Robert’s acclaimed leadership and determination to succeed, especially in efforts offering a significant positive impact to the state of Texas, have placed TCR squarely on the path to success.
Ambassador J. Thomas Schieffer – Senior Advisor
J. Thomas Schieffer, the former United States Ambassador to Japan and Australia, has joined Texas Central High-Speed Railway as a Senior Advisor. Prior to serving as an Ambassador, Schieffer was President of the Texas Rangers Baseball Club where he oversaw the successful construction of The Ballpark in Arlington. Schieffer is founder and President of Envoy International LLC, a consulting company that provides a wide range of servi to international companies.
Ambassador Ron Kirk – Senior Advisor
Ambassador Ron Kirk is a Senior Advisor to Texas Central Railway and Senior Of Counsel in Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher’s Dallas and Washington, D.C. offices. He is Co-Chair of the International Trade practice and is also a member of the Public Policy, Crisis Management, Mergers and Acquisitions and Private Equity practice groups. Prior to joining the firm, Ambassador Kirk was the first African-American to serve as United States Trade Representative (USTR), serving as principal trade advisor to the President as well as negotiator and spokesperson on trade issues. He was also elected the first African-American Mayor of Dallas, Texas.
Kathryn Kaufman – Executive Vice President
As TCR’s Executive Vice President, Katie applies her years of public and private sector experience in Asia and the United States daily towards the continued successful development of high-speed passenger rail in Texas. Through developing and managing relationships, strategies and opportunities fundamental to TCR’s continued success, Katie’s leadership, oversight and management is critical to all aspects of this dynamic project. Katie directly oversees all aspects of the project’s promotion, including all engineering and design work and overall strategy.
Mike Finnegan – Executive Vice President
As TCR’s Executive Vice President, Mike is the principal liaison between TCR and its technology partners at JRC. Overseeing this critical relationship, Mike manages all elements of TCR’s efforts to deploy JRC’s N700-I Bullet in Texas, including issues related to the system’s compliance with U.S. safety and operations standards. Additionally, Mike oversees key discussions related to project finance and corporate strategy.
Mark Walker – Executive Vice President
As TCR’s Executive Vice President, Mark leads TCR’s planning and promotional activities related to right-of-way, real estate, station development and Transit Oriented Development (TOD). Mark is an executive manager and international affairs specialist with 20 years of experience in both the public and private sectors. Since 2009, Mark has also been a partner in New Magellan Ventures, a venture capital and private equity firm in Washington DC.
Mel Richmond – Chief Operating Officer
Based in TCR’s Washington, DC office, Mel Richmond serves as TCR’s COO. Throughout a 35-year government career, Mel has successfully built, managed and led numerous programs of national importance and myriad high-performing organizations varying from as few as 30 to well over 1500 people.
Shaun McCabe – Vice President, Environmental and Engineering
Shaun is an executive manager, attorney and environmental specialist with over 25 years of experience in the energy and environmental sector. He has served as president and led a turnaround of a Texas-based materials management and disposal company, successfully advocated for changes to state legislation, obtained multi-state and federal agency approvals, licenses and permits and led large capital expenditure environmental-related projects.
Travis Kelly – Vice President, Government Relations
Travis manages TCR’s marketing, state and federal government affairs as well as all local government, public and stakeholder outreach. After working to raise the profile of high-speed rail among elected officials in Texas, Travis is now working to support TCR’s efforts to bring high-speed passenger rail to Texas.
Chris Gibb, Senior Advisor
Chris is a career railwayman in the UK, spending over 30 years in both public and private sector. He retired in 2013 from the role of Chief Operating Officer for Virgin Trains, and is now a Non Executive Director of Network Rail, the company responsible for the UK’s rail infrastructure and major stations, as well as being director and shareholder of CLGR Limited, a provider of advice on rail operations. In his ten years at Virgin Trains he was part of a team that ran a safe operation through a period of major investment in new trains and infrastructure, doubled passenger numbers, grew revenue, and consistently topped customer satisfaction league tables.
Fred Weiderhold – Senior Advisor
Mr. Weiderhold has over 35 years of management experience, recently serving for over 20 years as a statutory Federal Inspector General and senior corporate executive.
Peter Cannito – Senior Advisor
Mr. Cannito is President and Owner of LPC & Associates where he provides railroad and transit industry clients with strategic and technical advice on matters of operations and maintenance, high speed rail, rail safety and security, project development and project management. He previously served as President of MTA Metro North Railroad (MNR), one of the largest commuter rail systems in the U.S.
H Gregory Moore – Senior Financial Advisor
Greg Moore is an accomplished investment banker with over 20 years of experience designing corporate strategy and executing difficult capital markets, partnership, and capital-raising assignments in a variety of industries. Mr Moore’s clients have included AT&T, Home Box Office, Disney, Sony, SBC Communications, Winstar Communications and American Pad & Paper.
David Hagy – Executive Director, Community Outreach
David Hagy has 20 years of experience managing projects, conducting strategic planning, formulating policy and leading outreach for state and local governments and federal agencies. Immediately before joining Texas Central Railway, David was a consultant with Booz Allen Hamilton. His work at the Department of Defense, Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence focused on developing policy to facilitate information sharing between federal, state, and local governments and the private sector.
Chip Werner – Finance Associate
Chip utilizes his years of experience as a leader and strategic planner to assist in the project’s promotion. Focusing on financial activities that support the overall corporate and business strategy, Chip assists TCR’s leadership with the research, coordination and due diligence necessary to advance the project to its next phase.
Jennifer Hu – Director of Legal and Regulatory Affairs
Before joining TCR, Ms. Hu held a number of legal and managerial positions in the private and public sectors in Taiwan. Ms. Hu received a Bachelor of Science in Economics from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology; a Master of Science in Foreign Service from Georgetown University; and a Juris Doctor and a Master of Law in Business and Finance from the George Washington University Law School.
Ms. Hu is a member of the New York Bar. She speaks Mandarin Chinese, Taiwanese, and Japanese.
Jason Criss – Project Scheduler
Jason plays a critical role in support of the timely and successful promotion of this project. Responsible for maintaining, revising, and continuing to build the project schedule for Texas Central High-Speed Railway, carefully tracking the numerous ongoing promotional tasks and activities, Jason’s leadership and project scheduling experience is vital to TCR’s success. Jason spent his childhood living in Virginia Beach, VA and grew up believing in the mission of the United States military and served in the U.S. Marines for eight years.
David Benzion – Director, Communications
As Director of Communications, David designs and executes the research, engagement and messaging strategies that inform TCR’s relationships with a wide variety of governmental, media and community stakeholders. He has previously served in similar capacities with the Harris County District Attorney’s Office, as well as grassroots organizations dedicated to issues ranging from property tax reform to a strong US-Israel partnership.
Elizabeth Sandefur – Assistant Director
Elizabeth manages TCR’s Washington office schedule and coordinates communication between TCR’s various offices. Elizabeth also assists in political outreach on behalf of TCR by tracking political changes on Capitol Hill and researching options for stakeholder outreach.
Rebecca Cowle – Outreach Coordinator
Rebecca brings her experience in non-profit fundraising and international infrastructural development to assist the Dallas office in liaising with local stakeholders and elected officials. She also actively participates in the development of media content and outreach strategies within the Dallas/Fort Worth community. She also works directly with the National Association of Railroad Passengers (NARP), a 501c3 non-profit based out of Washington D.C., to develop and cultivate student-lead initiatives on Texas college campuses that support TCR’s efforts.

Service Frequency and Route

Nearly 50,000 Texans, sometimes called “super-commuters,” travel back and forth between Houston and Dallas more than once per week. Many others make the trip very regularly. The approximately 240-mile high-speed rail line will offer a total travel time of less than 90 minutes, with convenient 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.

TCR respects and values property rights and Texas landowners. In its promotion of a high-speed rail project between Dallas and Houston,TCR is identifying and analyzing potential routes and coordinating with the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) and the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) during the ongoing environmental review of the project. During this extensive analysis, a strong emphasis is placed on using existing rights of way as much as possible. A number of such rights of way were closely examined, including interstates, freight rail corridors and power and utility corridors, all with the goal to minimize landowner impacts.
Alignments under consideration can be seen here.

Pending environmental reviews, TCR anticipates stations in Dallas and Houston that will provide easy access to each region’s excellent highways, thoroughfares and expansive public transit networks.

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