Thorough Review of TCR’s Answers to Our Questions

Our last post included a link to Texas Central Railway’s recent response to our questions we posed to them in early December.  After a lengthy wait, while TCR did not directly send us any documentation or the answers, we appreciate their attempt to respond.  Unfortunately, these responses now pose more unanswered questions.  Remember that lawyers have written TCR’s responses (in italics below), so read them carefully.

  • OWNERSHIP

    • “TCR is the “project promoter.”  In this role, TCR has been responsible for the initial project validation activities, including multiple ridership studies, engineering feasibility reviews and other due diligence conducted to verify the feasibility of the project and then determine its viability to attract additional private investment.”
      • This appears to be clarification from TCR regarding their role in the project.  The FRA had previously indicated that TCR would own, operate, and maintain the rail during some of the Scoping Meetings.
      • We requested a copy of the these studies and reviews, but were denied.
    • “First, as the project’s American-based investors contribute to the project’s later, more capital-intensive phases, it is likely that they will want significant equity in the company in exchange for their investment.  The most efficient way to allocate this equity is to create a distinct entity, the ownership of which will be divided appropriately among the entity’s ownership and management.”
  • COMMUNITY IMPACTS
    • “One message rural stakeholders clearly sent us was that any corridor—no matter how narrow—can become a genuine obstacle if you need to get to the other side, but can’t.We heard them.  Because of this, the Project will incorporate a design that has no at-grade crossings for its entire length. Additionally, as the environmental process proceeds and additional details are known about the specific engineering and design of the rail infrastructure, TCR is committed to work directly with property owners and other stakeholders to identify and mitigate adverse impacts to the greatest extent possible.”
      • No at-grade crossing means landowners will not be able to cross the track(s) to reach property on the other side.  TCR has been presenting “no at-grade” crossings since very early in the process; this is not new information nor does it specifically address the concerns of the landowners whose land will be divided.  Conversely, this “response” merely re-states previous positions in an apparent effort to convince opponents that TCR is addressing their concerns.  Click here to see their “Fast Facts” which states “‘closed’ railroad system (dedicated to HSR), no at-grade crossings”
  • TAXPAYER FUNDING
    • “TCR is a private-sector company, and private investors will build and operate the high-speed rail system between Dallas and Houston that TCR is promoting as a for-profit business.”
      • While this statement says “will build and operate” it does not explicitly say they will solely pay for all of it, nor who will be the “investors”.
    • “Despite this fact, skepticism about these claims remains, and TCR continues to receive numerous requests to confirm that “no federal, state, or local funds are being, or will be, used in the development, construction, or operation of this project.”Neither TCR, nor any of its affiliates, have sought, received or accepted any of the $10 billion dollars Congress authorized for high-speed rail as part of the 2009 stimulus fund.  In fact, TCR worked with TxDOT and the FRA for nearly two years to ensure that TxDOT would not use any portion of a federal grant TxDOT received in 2010 to conduct TCR’s project environmental review.”
      • Again TCR does not confirm that they will not use ANY federal, state, or local money.  They only indicate that they have not sought, received or accepted any of a specific $10 billion stimulus fund authorization or a federal grant received by TxDOT.  However, they do not unequivocally assure the tax-payers that they will not in the future.
    • “This project will inject many billions of dollars of outside, private investment capital into the Texas economy.  Estimating conservatively, it would directly create approximately 10,000 full-time jobs for four years during construction, and thousands of good-paying permanent jobs for ongoing maintenance and operations.  Once operational, the high-speed rail corridor will inject many, many millions of dollars of tax revenue annually into local, county and state government coffers.”
      • Here TCR touts “thousands of good-paying permanent jobs for ongoing maintenance and operations”, however on the same website under “Benefits” they state 750 jobs.  Clarification is needed as to both the actual number and the definition of “good-paying”.
    • “The bottom line is that the Project is considering the possibility of using federal construction loans to finance a portion of the project, but at this stage of project planning, it is only one of many considerations.”
      • As we all know, the federal government is funded by the citizens, therefore it stands to reason that a default will cost the taxpayers.

There are many more instances that could be discussed in this post, however it is apparent that the recent updated webpage from TCR is lacking the detail and clarity requested by all parties.  Hopefully, TCR will increase their accuracy in future disclosures.

Again, please take note of each word on the promotional materials issued by TCR, as their language is calculated and intentional, else it be careless and naive.