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Texas High-Speed Train Is ‘Shovel Ready'

 

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The company must also finish acquiring land and financing. And there are ongoing legal battles with opponents of the train. But Aguilar remains confident.

"I still can say we're absolutely sure it's going to happen," he said.

Texas Central hopes to break ground as soon as June of next year.

 

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Man I really hope they can make this happen. Not just for this one project, but as a proof of concept - to have the first true, world-class high speed train line in the country right here in Texas. 

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Wow, very cool. Reminds me of some of the rail stations I've been at in Taipei and Berlin. Glad to see Houston is going to be the leader in the country for this type of development. 

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Keeping Up the Momentum for the Texas High-Speed Train

 

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We are excited to announce another major accomplishment. We are pleased to share that we have signed an early works agreement with Kiewit, Mass. Electric Construction to prepare for the installation of the Texas High-Speed Train. Mass. Electric, a subsidiary of Kiewit Corporation, will focus on installing the core system and critical safety elements of the train. 

 

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14 hours ago, Naviguessor said:

Still no mention of The Unicorn Stables contract?  They have no idea what they’re even doing. 

 

They also forgot to put the pie-in-the-sky in the renderings. duffuses...

On 11/21/2019 at 10:17 AM, Triton said:

Wow, very cool. Reminds me of some of the rail stations I've been at in Taipei and Berlin. Glad to see Houston is going to be the leader in the country for this type of development. 

 

Agree. Berlin in particular it reminds me of Alexanderplatz, with a dash of Hauptbahnhof, and OstKreuz.

Edited by Luminare
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On 11/26/2019 at 1:15 PM, rechlin said:

Pre-construction contract signed with Kiewit.  Price has now jumped up to $20 billion.

 

https://www.constructiondive.com/news/texas-central-signs-preconstruction-contract-with-kiewit-firm-for-20b-bull/568072/

 

Uber is currently valued at $50 billion, so I'm sure TCR can raise $20 billion from investors wanting to turn money into more money

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48 minutes ago, cspwal said:

 

Uber is currently valued at $50 billion, so I'm sure TCR can raise $20 billion from investors wanting to turn money into more money

 

That comparison is actually even more valid when we live in a new age of tech venture capitalism. An age of Elon Musks, etc... If people are willing to throw money away, in the billons, on websites that don't actually produce something concrete, or real estate ventures that label themselves as "techy", but are just glorified landlords, then there are definitely people out there who will put bank on something that is an actual tangible concrete and physical product.

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Pre-Construction work has already begun! Soil Testing, along with prepping various areas for the future berms and viaducts.

 

TCR claims that they are ready for construction, and it seems all they are waiting for is final Federal approval. They further claim that they could start as early as June.

 

https://www.nbcdfw.com/news/local/Texas-High-Speed-Train-is-Shovel-Ready-565182232.html

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15 hours ago, gmac said:

Yep. To prepare for building my new million-dollar mansion, I mowed my lawn today.

 

Yeah you're probably right, I'm sure sample drilling the country side is just a scaled up version of aerating your yard. Maybe they might even put up cheap inflatable Santa's since its christmas time huh.

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11 minutes ago, Luminare said:

 

Yeah you're probably right, I'm sure sample drilling the country side is just a scaled up version of aerating your yard. Maybe they might even put up cheap inflatable Santa's since its christmas time huh.

s-l640.jpg

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I'll believe this project will get built when I see it get built.  I love the idea and want the government to allow it to be built but I'm skeptical it ever will.

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3 hours ago, Geographer said:

I'll believe this project will get built when I see it get built.  I love the idea and want the government to allow it to be built but I'm skeptical it ever will.

 

They seem to be solidly on the path to getting it built.  My question is can they make a long-term go of it.  I'd hate to see this end up abandoned after a few years.

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23 minutes ago, august948 said:

 

They seem to be solidly on the path to getting it built.  My question is can they make a long-term go of it.  I'd hate to see this end up abandoned after a few years.

 

I think due to the nature of the business it's almost exclusively a long-term investment. There is nothing short term about it, so the only reason you get into something like this is to play the long game. Think SpaceX. Yeah its cool looking at their small successes, but that isn't why they are doing it. They have a long term goal, and because its a private industry they can take as long as they want, be ok with making errors, try new things, and innovate. TCR has the ability to do all of those things. Its first to market, so it has a lot of room to do a lot of different things. Unlike government which is primarily concerned with short-medium term because they are held accountable by voters who want things now, a private company is going to do whatever it takes to make sure it ensures its survival over the long haul. You don't really see a lot of billion dollar mega projects that make big risks, or unnecessary risks.

 

As for where they are at, they are getting very close. They should be receiving their EIS and RPA's by this summer, and immediately they will start putting boots on the ground. Those Federal reviews are the only thing preventing them from digging right now.

Edited by Luminare
"you don't really" not "you do really"
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Hope landowners stick to their guns and don't let it happen. Or, get a billion an acre.

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3 hours ago, HoustonBoy said:

 Or, eminent domain takes over.

 

No. Terrible idea for a vanity project. If they had been allowed to put it down the I-45 corridor, fine, no additional land sacrificed.

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33 minutes ago, gmac said:

 

No. Terrible idea for a vanity project. If they had been allowed to put it down the I-45 corridor, fine, no additional land sacrificed.

 

I doubt that's even technically feasible with all the overpasses and I45 not being straight enough to optimize maximum speed. TXDOT wouldn't want them in the ROW because I'm sure they can't wait to add more lanes.  

6 hours ago, august948 said:

 

They seem to be solidly on the path to getting it built.  My question is can they make a long-term go of it.  I'd hate to see this end up abandoned after a few years.

 

Not likely to ever be abandoned unless you think Japan will cease to exist.

Edited by BeerNut

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10 minutes ago, BeerNut said:

 

I doubt that's even technically feasible with all the overpasses and I45 not being straight enough to optimize maximum speed. TXDOT wouldn't want them in the ROW because I'm sure they can't wait to add more lanes.  

 

Not likely to ever be abandoned unless you think Japan will cease to exist.

 

It could be abandoned if it fails to turn a profit.  I hope it succeeds, but I don't have enough insight into the passenger rail business in the US nor a crystal ball to see how the economics will play out over the long term.  Maybe I missed it, but is this project guaranteed in perpetuity by Japan?  Ideally, this will turn enough of a profit that there will be a push to expand it.  Less ideally, the profit isn't there long term and it's taken over by the government, a la Amatrak.  Even less ideally, it's abandoned.  I don't think we can say with any degree of certainty how this will fair over the next 50 years or so.

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Wait, you guys know people specifically bought land to sit on it and wait for these people to buy it from them, right? Vanity project or not, parts of that land was land people held in the hopes of selling it for this train. 

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12 minutes ago, august948 said:

 

It could be abandoned if it fails to turn a profit.  I hope it succeeds, but I don't have enough insight into the passenger rail business in the US nor a crystal ball to see how the economics will play out over the long term.  Maybe I missed it, but is this project guaranteed in perpetuity by Japan?  Ideally, this will turn enough of a profit that there will be a push to expand it.  Less ideally, the profit isn't there long term and it's taken over by the government, a la Amatrak.  Even less ideally, it's abandoned.  I don't think we can say with any degree of certainty how this will fair over the next 50 years or so.

 

Japan is doling out huge amounts of money in Asia and India to spread Shinkansen train technology to compete with Chinese train tech.  Honestly I think they're waiting on the sidelines until TCR has FRA approval then they will make substantial financial contribution.  There is a significant amount of Japanese pride tied into the Shinkansen and TCR abandoning it probably wouldn't go over well.

22 minutes ago, X.R. said:

Wait, you guys know people specifically bought land to sit on it and wait for these people to buy it from them, right? Vanity project or not, parts of that land was land people held in the hopes of selling it for this train. 

 

Friend's parents are hoping to cash out as they're getting too old to maintain the land.   Their kids aren't too happy but when they asked who was going to move out there and take care of farm...crickets.

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12 hours ago, gmac said:

 

No. Terrible idea for a vanity project. If they had been allowed to put it down the I-45 corridor, fine, no additional land sacrificed.

 

15 hours ago, gmac said:

Hope landowners stick to their guns and don't let it happen. Or, get a billion an acre.

 

This is the kind of forward thinking that helped win WWII and put a man on the moon.

 

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I don't understand the idea that this is a "vanity project." It's high-speed transit that cuts travel time between Houston and Dallas to an hour and a half. And it has real potential to function as a proof of concept that makes additional routes less of a nightmare to get built. 

 

I get that plenty of people will still drive, but this would completely eliminate any reason to ever fly between Houston and Dallas as far as I'm concerned. A flight is only about 15 minutes quicker, and that's not counting getting through security, so time-wise it's a wash at worst. The difference in comfort between a train seat and a plane seat is so far beyond night and day. 

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Washington DC to NYC is a bit over 200 miles, as is NYC to Boston.  Amtrak Acela takes about the same time as driving from Houston to Dallas to make those trips (its average speed is roughly 85 mph WAS - NYC and 66 mph NYC - BOS), yet retains a pretty robust schedule.  The business case for an hour and a half for the same distance +/- seems pretty clear.

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5 hours ago, DNAguy said:

 

 

This is the kind of forward thinking that helped win WWII and put a man on the moon.

 

 

This project would have been forward-thinking in the 70s. Now? Boondoggle.

 

Just my opinion, and I realize I may be the only person with such an opinion. So be it.

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This is contemporary high-speed rail. Brand new, newly designed trains running over 200mph. 

 

This is forward-thinking today.

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On 2/12/2020 at 10:23 PM, BeerNut said:

 

Japan is doling out huge amounts of money in Asia and India to spread Shinkansen train technology to compete with Chinese train tech.  Honestly I think they're waiting on the sidelines until TCR has FRA approval then they will make substantial financial contribution.  There is a significant amount of Japanese pride tied into the Shinkansen and TCR abandoning it probably wouldn't go over well.

 

Friend's parents are hoping to cash out as they're getting too old to maintain the land.   Their kids aren't too happy but when they asked who was going to move out there and take care of farm...crickets.

 

Yeah, I actually have two different friends in the same exact position as your friend (and one set of parents and their friends are the ones who were buying land to sell to the train peeps). One about 40 mins south of Dallas and the other is about an hour north of downtown Houston. Only one tried to convince his parents that doing weekly checks on the farm could work, lol.  

 

There is going to be a townhall: https://www.houstonchronicle.com/news/transportation/article/Brady-to-host-Navasota-town-hall-with-opponents-15054362.php

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20 minutes ago, X.R. said:

 

Yeah, I actually have two different friends in the same exact position as your friend (and one set of parents and their friends are the ones who were buying land to sell to the train peeps). One about 40 mins south of Dallas and the other is about an hour north of downtown Houston. Only one tried to convince his parents that doing weekly checks on the farm could work, lol.  

 

There is going to be a townhall: https://www.houstonchronicle.com/news/transportation/article/Brady-to-host-Navasota-town-hall-with-opponents-15054362.php

 

I'm beginning to think landowners against TCR are in the minority.  Probably a few landowners that would never sell and people that aren't affected but hate eminent domain are the ones making the biggest fuss.

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To be fair to the rurals, I think many of them fully realize that it won't be for them, and that's why they don't like it. 

Of course, the weird compromise "university" station that isn't actually in College Station or Huntsville is kinda effectively also a "rural" station.

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2 hours ago, Luminare said:

Do you live in a House? We've been living in houses since we've lived in caves right? Thats definitely not forward thinking.

 

I mean aren't houses just artificial caves?

 

If this project was proposing building a single track railway and running regular locomotives at 35 mph, I could see calling it backwards thinking.

 

The project is to build a highspeed rail, with as few turns or dips as possible, double tracked, using highly advanced trainsets that can go over 180 mph (twice as fast as the guy in the left lane passing you in the raised F-150)

 

It's using modern communication technologies (for signaling) and modern motors and fabrication technqiues (to get the speeds) that makes the project different. And I highly doubt that this will fail once they've laid track.  Right now, Southwest is flying planes (which cost more for each flight to fly than how much it will take to run the train each trip) 20 times a day between Houston and Dallas, at some points every 30 minutes.  With a 90 minute one way trip, it would only take 6 trainsets to have trains every 30 minutes all day.  After the system is up and runing, those trains will start filling up and make the investors back a lot of money

1 minute ago, Texasota said:

To be fair to the rurals, I think many of them fully realize that it won't be for them, and that's why they don't like it. 

Of course, the weird compromise "university" station that isn't actually in College Station or Huntsville is kinda effectively also a "rural" station.

 

I wonder if there would be more buy in if there were more "local" stops along the route.

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55 minutes ago, cspwal said:

I wonder if there would be more buy in if there were more "local" stops along the route.

 

But this is what's going to happen with those local stops... they'll be underutilized and it will reduce the profitability of this project because those times of slowing down, stopping, waiting for passengers, and then starting back up again, could have been spent on keeping the train at a sustained high speed, getting more passengers from one city to the other. Thus, eliminating the competitiveness with the airlines.

 

Perhaps they could offer an express and local route. 

 

But look, it's these long distant small town stops that are decimating Amtrak. I highly encourage people to watch the video on Youtube about Amtrak profitability. The Amtrak routes that actually make Amtrak profitable are the lessened stops from one major destination to the next. Amtrak is trying to cut off the long distant small town stops but there's political backlash across the nation for them doing it, even though small towns rarely even use them.

 

 

 

 

 

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4 hours ago, Luminare said:

 

Do you have a Microwave? Thats like 60-70 year old tech right? Thats not forward thinking.

 

Do you drive a car? Thats like tech from the 1920's right? Thats not forward thinking.

 

Do you have an Oven? Thats like several thousand year old tech right? Thats not forward thinking.

 

Do you live in a House? We've been living in houses since we've lived in caves right? Thats definitely not forward thinking.

 

 

You know what? Maybe others will shy away from pointing this out, but not me. You know what, this is a vanity a project....and who cares. Who gives a f. Let me tell you something, who are the ones that come up with the greatest ideas ever, the insecure guy or the confident guy. Who usually is the one that normally has financing for such projects, the poor guy or the rich guy? So it stands to believe that its normally really super confident, and rich dudes who will take on these endeavors. Are you saying that we don't want super confident rich motherfs to blow their money going to space or building their own trains both of which we will eventually ride? No we just want them to blow it on parties, and yachts right? So yeah it takes an ego to do these things. It takes an ego to say, you know what I don't like how things are now and instead of waiting for some schmuck to do it I'm going to do it myself. They don't waiting for anyone, they just do it. Great for them. Again I'll bring up SpaceX. Elon has stated very clearly that his main goal of SpaceX is that he wants to die on Mars. He literally started a space organization simply for that self-interest of wanting to die on another planet. Yeah thats a vanity project, but you know what we get out of that? Spacecraft that can go to Mars! You know what happens if TCR succeeds? We get High Speed rail from Houston to Dallas in 90mins. Even if it takes 100mins or 91min...who cares we didn't have it before, and now we will. We only call them vanity projects because on the outside it just looks like rich people throwing their money away, but that just isn't the case. Its normally these "vanity projects" that push civilization just a little bit here and there, and moves us forward. That is forward thinking. Its one step at a time. Whatever that is is something we should be supporting.

 

tl;dr

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On ‎2‎/‎13‎/‎2020 at 3:09 PM, gmac said:

 

This project would have been forward-thinking in the 70s. Now? Boondoggle.

 

Just my opinion, and I realize I may be the only person with such an opinion. So be it.

 

Solar Energy:

Quote

This project would have been forward-thinking in the 70s. Now? Boondoggle.

 

Wind Energy:

Quote

This project would have been forward-thinking in the 70s. Now? Boondoggle.

 

Heavy lift Rocket for manned space flight

Quote

This project would have been forward-thinking in the 60s. Now? Boondoggle.

 

Rural Broadband Internet

Quote

This project would have been forward-thinking in the 90s. Now? Boondoggle.

 

 

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9 hours ago, DNAguy said:

 

Solar Energy:

 

Wind Energy:

 

Heavy lift Rocket for manned space flight

 

Rural Broadband Internet

 

 

 

ts;dr

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On 2/14/2020 at 2:34 PM, Triton said:

Perhaps they could offer an express and local route. 


that’s what I was thinking - similar to the northeast corridor, you could have fast trains every 30 and a local every hour or something like that. I’m sure there’s a plan similar in mind for the one mid Station 

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On 2/14/2020 at 1:44 PM, cspwal said:

I wonder if there would be more buy in if there were more "local" stops along the route.

 

Union Pacific and BNSF already have rail that goes through all these small towns.  In ideal world you utilize these existing routes and connect them to HSR.  This would give people the option of taking the slow train or taking a slow train to a HSR terminal for a somewhat faster trip.   Currently none of this is feasible with freight being prioritized on these routes.

 

http://ftp.dot.state.tx.us/pub/txdot-info/tpp/maps/2016-railroad.pdf

 

Rgz09gM.jpg

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On 2/16/2020 at 10:07 AM, BeerNut said:

 

Union Pacific and BNSF already have rail that goes through all these small towns.  In ideal world you utilize these existing routes and connect them to HSR.  This would give people the option of taking the slow train or taking a slow train to a HSR terminal for a somewhat faster trip.   Currently none of this is feasible with freight being prioritized on these routes.

 

http://ftp.dot.state.tx.us/pub/txdot-info/tpp/maps/2016-railroad.pdf

 

Rgz09gM.jpg

 

Exactly. This is how train travel worked in Germany while there. Their ICE trains went on straighter routes bypassing the majority of small towns just like TCR is doing with its trains. Then DE in Germany also had a regional network of trains (RE) that would connect to small towns which then connected to larger regional centers which had access to ICE. It was an incredibly efficient system with some built in redundancy. HSR doesn't and shouldn't be used in every situation. Have HSR connect major cities. Then another layer of transit which is just a notch slower than HSR, but still quick which gets out from major cities to large regional towns, and then you have the next step down from that which would be regional travel. In Germany it was ICE (intercity express) which was the fastest, then IC (intercity), then it was RE (Regional Express). So if here we have our HSR which will go at 200 mph or higher, then the next step below that would be an Intercity/InterLargeTown train at 150mph, and then a Regional Train that would go at around 75-100mph.

Edited by Luminare
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I think the problem with existing freight corridors is that the major railroads do not want to sell them because they do a brisk business hauling freight for the time being. And they tend to have narrow, constrained ROW's and sharp curves and grades. Not really HSR friendly, anything using them would be a slow heavy rail line like what Amtrak already operates.

 

Texas Central seeing the potential in high voltage power line corridors is a really interesting idea that I hope catches on. There's potential there to build super straight routes between major cities.

Edited by zaphod
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18 minutes ago, zaphod said:

I think the problem with existing freight corridors is that the major railroads do not want to sell them because they do a brisk business hauling freight for the time being. And they tend to have narrow, constrained ROW's and sharp curves and grades. Not really HSR friendly, anything using them would be a slow heavy rail line like what Amtrak already operates.

 

Yea they rather not have passenger rail on any of their lines and selling isn't an option. 

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Critics say they are in for long haul against $15B bullet train

 

A woman speaks during a public hearing held by the Federal Railroad Administration for the Houston-to-Dallas bullet train on Feb. 5, 2018 in Cypress.

 

 

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NAVASOTA — In the same room where many mobilized against the proposed Trans-Texas Corridor freeway project 15 years ago, critics of a proposed Houston-to-Dallas bullet train promised to shoot that down, too. No matter how long that takes.

“Unfortunately, we are five years in and I can see five more years,” said Kyle Workman, president of Texans Against High-Speed Rail.

At a Wednesday night town hall organized by the group and attended by local and state officials along with U.S. Rep. Kevin Brady, R-The Woodlands, elected leaders promised the crowd a fight starting in Washington, where regulators are expected to release safety requirements for high-speed trains and consider whether the Texas Central project is a federally-recognized railroad.

 

“After we stop them again in Washington, this battle shifts back to Texas,” Brady told the crowd of landowners, mostly from Grimes, Montgomery, Waller, Harris and Madison counties.

Texas Central aims to develop a 240-mile sealed rail corridor from south of downtown Dallas to near Loop 610 and U.S. 290. The path travels along a utility corridor through 11 rural counties, where thousands of residents vigorously oppose the train. Critics have called the project, expected to cost $15 billion or more, a boondoggle that will require a taxpayer bailout while using eminent domain to steal land that has been owned by families for decades.

 

https://www.houstonchronicle.com/news/transportation/article/Critics-say-they-are-in-for-long-haul-against-15071336.php#photo-19028824

 

 

 

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So I have a couple questions:

- the $15 billion will come from rich investors from outside the state, spending in the state.  Theoretically that's a net win for the Texas economy even if not a single train ever runs, right?

- TCR isn't going to buy land, it's going to buy railroad easements, right?  So if they don't build a railroad, then the properties not affected?

- If it will require a taxpayer bailout, that would because it was useful for enough people to get the government to step in (though not profitable for the company that built it).  If the state takes it over without paying the high cost of building it, wouldn't that be a public good?  To have a useful train that they only have to pay maintenance on?

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1 hour ago, cspwal said:

So I have a couple questions:

- the $15 billion will come from rich investors from outside the state, spending in the state.  Theoretically that's a net win for the Texas economy even if not a single train ever runs, right?

- TCR isn't going to buy land, it's going to buy railroad easements, right?  So if they don't build a railroad, then the properties not affected?

- If it will require a taxpayer bailout, that would because it was useful for enough people to get the government to step in (though not profitable for the company that built it).  If the state takes it over without paying the high cost of building it, wouldn't that be a public good?  To have a useful train that they only have to pay maintenance on?

 

You're too rational....it's boondongle because reasons 

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