In July, Amtrak breathed new life into the long-gestating project by exploring a partnership with Texas Central, which has spearheaded the effort since 2014.
ENNIS, Texas — Note: The video at the top of this article initially aired on August 10, 2023.
Hundreds of farmers and landowners plan to meet Thursday night in Ennis to discuss new updates regarding a proposed bullet train along or near their properties — a project that would turn an hours-long drive from Dallas to Houston into just 90 minutes, but has faced staunch opposition in this part of Texas for the past decade.
The rail, as currently proposed, would traverse through multiple counties, extend 240 miles between destinations and travel 205 miles per hour on its way back and forth.
Hosted by Texans Against High-Speed Rail, Thursday’s meeting is one of several planned after rail giant Amtrak announced last month that it would be exploring a partnership with Texas Central.
Texas Central has spearheaded the project since 2014, and recently won a Texas Supreme Court battle last year that now allows it to use eminent domain to build.
A few days ago in Madisonville, another community located along the proposed route, almost 200 people also gathered in opposition to tracks cutting through their land, KBTX reports.
The proposed bullet train’s journey from dream to reality has been anything but easy. Throughout the years, the effort has been held up by litigation, eminent domain concerns and private funding drying up.
Amtrak and Texas Central have already applied for federal funding, which would change that last concern. But, right now, the dollars are only earmarked for studies and design for the rail.
According to Amtrak, the bullet train would save 100,000 tons of greenhouse gas emissions annually and take 12,500 cars off Interstate 45 daily.
But, for Carma Sullivan, the proposed bullet train would split her family’s farm in Ennis — home to seven, full-time, sixth-generation farmers.
Sullivan’s family purchased the farm more than 140 years ago, and to this day, cotton is still grown on it.
The proposed rail would make it more challenging to farm all the land, traverse it and travel from home to home on the property to see relatives, Sullivan said.
“For us farmers, it’s just so much frustration and uncertainty,” Sullivan said. “We will pay the biggest cost for this project. Last year, when Texas Central’s CEO resigned, we thought the project was done — and then we got this shocking news.”
Sullivan understands that connecting both cities is an economic move — but adds that hundreds of families will be upended because of it.
“For us — we’re kind of tired being the doormat for the big cities,” Sullivan said. “We’re businessmen, too.”