FRA issues documents clearing path for Texas Central construction (updated)

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DALLAS — Texas Central Railroad, which seeks to build a high speed line between Dallas and Houston, said this morning that the Federal Railroad Administration has has issued two documents approving plans for the railroad and bringing it closer to construction.

In a press release, the railroad reports the FRA has released the final Rule of Particular Ability, which sets the safety rules for the railroad, and the Record of Decision, which completes the environmental review process and sets the route for the railroad.

The Rule of Particular Ability draws largely on the standards set by the Central Japan Railway Co. for its Tokaido Shinkansen system; Texas Central plans to use Shinkansen equipment for its operation. The Record of Decision completes an environmental review process that began in 2014 and led to release of the Final Environmental Impact Statement, a document of more than 10,000 pages earlier this year.

“This is the moment we have been working towards,” Carlos Aguilar, CEO of Texas Central, said in the press release. “The release of the final RPA and ROD by the Federal Railroad Administration represents years of work by countless individuals, affirming a very thorough and careful federal regulatory process that will make the Texas Central Railroad the first high-speed rail system to be implemented in the United States.”

Texans Against High Speed Rail, which has vocally opposed the project, issued a statement Monday downplaying the significance of the FRA documents, and saying the FRA actions “clear the way for legal challenges regarding, among other [National Environmental Policy Act] violations, the FRA’s failure to take the requisite ‘hard look’ at the projects environmental impacts, reasonable alternatives, and financial feasibility.”

— Updated at 12:30 p.m. CDT with statement from Texans Against High Speed Rail.

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