Honkin' Mad

Luka Doncic supports high-speed rail in Texas, but is that enough to save it?

Dallas to Houston in 90 minutes? Texas Bullet Train could make that a reality

A $12-billion high-speed rail system could transform transportation in the Lone Star State.
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A $12-billion high-speed rail system could transform transportation in the Lone Star State.

Supporters of high-speed rail say they’re thrilled that Dallas Mavericks basketball standout Luka Doncic recently tweeted in support of a proposed high-speed rail line from Dallas to Houston.

They swear they didn’t put Doncic up to it.

Meanwhile, those bullet train backers are fighting a pretty major battle in Austin to prevent opponents of the high-speed rail line — which would make it possible to travel between Texas’ two largest metro areas in 90 minutes — from killing the proposal in the final days of the 2019 Legislative session.

Doncic wrote in his tweet: “I’ve heard Texas is close to start the construction of a high-speed rail. I’ve taken @Renfe HS trains in Spain and I can tell you they are great. Safe, fast, punctual and relaxing for big guys!”

“It’s a nice tweet from Luka,” quipped Peter LeCody, president of Texas Rail Advocates, a group that supports the proposed Texas Central Railway high-speed line. “I wish we did have something to do with it.”

At the moment, LeCody and other rail advocates are pushing to have language removed from a budget rider that would prohibit state agencies such as the Texas Department of Transportation from spending public money on high-speed rail.

Officials from the Texas Central Railway, which would use rail cars and other technology from Japan’s JR Central Railway, have said they intend to build the Dallas-Houston line without public funds, although they would need regulatory help from the Texas Department of Transportation to get the project through legal hurdles.

The high-speed rail line likely would eventually be extended to downtown Fort Worth in a future phase, officials have said.

Last week, 11 bills that would have hurt the proposed Dallas-Houston line were left pending in committee, which supporters say is a good sign that the bills won’t go any further this session, which is in its final weeks.

However, four other bills are still under consideration, LeCody said.

The Legislative session is scheduled to end May 27.

Gordon Dickson joined the Fort Worth Star-Telegram in 1997. He is passionate about hard news reporting, and his beats include transportation, growth, urban planning, aviation, real estate, jobs, business trends. He is originally from El Paso, and loves food, soccer and long drives.