Texas Central, the private company behind the planned 390km high-speed railway linking Dallas and Houston, has won a legal battle against landowners, bringing the project one step closer to fruition.
The four-year court drama was focused around the proposed route in Leon County, Texas, with Texas’ Thirteenth Court of Appeals ruling that Texas Central is both a railroad company and an interurban electric railway.
The firm’s victory means that that they can now claim eminent domain, allowing the land to be purchased compulsorily. The ruling also means that Texas Central will be able to survey land, including railroads, pipelines, and electrical lines.
Texas Central is deemed to be acting for the "public good and a strong economy", according to a press release written by the company.
Carlos Aguilar, Texas Central’s chief executive, said: "This decision confirms our status as an operating railroad and allows us to continue moving forward with our permitting process and all of our other design, engineering and land acquisition efforts.
"(The) ruling supports the enormous amount of work Texas Central has done to date. Texas has the capacity, drive and population growth needed to make the Texas High-Speed Train successful and it’s that momentum that is pushing the nation’s first high-speed train forward."
Texas Central added that it had completed a part of the necessary land surveys, and had planned a route that "impacts the fewest property owners".
A final environmental impact statement on the railway is due to be published by the Federal Railroad Administration later this month.
The development has been mired in controversy, with the American arm of France’s state-owned rail firm SNCF criticising the design, funding and speed of the line, which Texas Central strongly disputed.
In September 2018 Texas Central secured a $300m loan from Japanese state lenders for the railway.
Image: Render of the planned high-speed railway between Houston and North Texas, near Dallas (texascentral.com)