A private developer is attempting to develop a 240 mile bullet train line between Houston and Dallas. The developer, Texas Central Partners, has entered into a joint venture with Japanese train operator JR Central to bring its bullet train technology to Texas. While there appears to be support from officials in Houston and Dallas, there is strong opposition from communities and landowners in proximity to the train’s route.
In preliminary litigation, the train company sought court orders allowing the company to enter private property to survey land.
Under New York Law, the Eminent Domain Procedure Law provides that a condemnor may enter land prior to its acquisition for the purposes of making surveys, test pits and borings or other investigations. EDPL Sec. 404.
The Texas property owners opposed the applications to survey arguing that Texas Central Partners shouldn’t be considered a railroad because it doesn’t operate on any rail lines.
In face of this opposition, the developer withdrew more than a dozen lawsuits, stating that they are instead going to try to have an “open dialogue” with the landowners about allowing the company onto their land.
It does not seem that the “open dialogue” is going to be that fruitful. Indeed, it has been reported that a group of Texas congressmen moved to file a number of bills that would challenge the railway’s plan. The bills were filed to address issues faced by landowners in the 10 counties between Dallas and Houston subject to eminent domain if the high speed line goes forward.
One of the points made by the legislators is that partnership consists of foreign investors. It has been alleged that the railways partners are threatening people for their land without officially having the power of eminent domain.
A report by the Reason Foundation issued this February stated the bullet train line could cost taxpayers $21.5 billion and could run at a $537 million deficit for the first 40 years of operation. That’s a lot of money.
Apparently, there are only two profitable bullet trains in the world. One is in Japan and the other is in France. All other bullet trains are losing money. Professor Gideon Kanner has written extensively about the bullet train planned for California and its cost overruns in his blog “Gideon’s Trumpet.” www.gideonstrumpet.info
The Reason report concludes that “high-speed rail has no chance of succeeding in Texas, absent a dramatic change in land use and transit patterns.”
Add to the mix that President Trump may be supporting the project. It is on a list of about 50 infrastructure projects the White House is looking at. And, remember Donald Trump thinks eminent domain is a great thing, “eminent domain is an absolute necessity.” But how does he feel using condemnation to take private property owned by Americans for what appears to be basically for a Japanese Company?