US railroad Amtrak exploring high-speed rail service in Texas

By David Shepardson

(Reuters) -U.S. passenger railroad Amtrak and Texas Central Partners said on Wednesday they are seeking federal grants for proposed high-speed rail service between Dallas and Houston.

The proposed 240-mile (380km) route would mean a less than 90-minute trip between two of the top five major U.S. metropolitan areas. Texas Central and Amtrak have submitted applications to several federal programs for study and design work for the potential Dallas to Houston segment.

Congress approved $66 billion for rail as part of the 2021 massive infrastructure bill, with Amtrak receiving $22 billion. The law also sets aside $36 billion for competitive grants.

The fastest U.S. passenger train, the Amtrak Acela on the northeast corridor, travels up to 150 miles per hour (240kmh) but aging infrastructure prevents that top speed along much of the route. New trains will eventually allow speeds in places to hit 160 mph.

Amtrak in June said it had applied for $8 billion in government grants to modernize bridges, tunnels and other aging infrastructure that will help it boost rail speeds.

The U.S. High Speed Rail Coalition praised the Amtrak Texas Central announcement saying “the future of transportation in the U.S. is with high-speed rail.”

The U.S. lags Europe and Asia in high-speed rail services, but several more are planned.

Brightline West is seeking $3.75 billion in federal funding for a $12 billion 218-mile (350km) Las Vegas to Southern California high-speed rail project that aims to be completed before the 2028 Los Angeles Olympics.

California plans to eventually connect San Francisco to the Los Angeles basin with trains traveling at over 200 mph (322 kph) in under three hours.

California aims to begin operations in 2030 and complete much of it by 2033. The cost was initially estimated at $80 billion in 2020 but in March the authority said costs could ultimately reach $127.9 billion.

(Reporting by David Shepardson; Editing by Lincoln Feast)