Texas Central Fight Continues
August 7, 2020
Texas Supreme Court To Decide Whether To Accept Texas Central Opponent’s Appeal
The Texas Supreme Court will decide later this month whether to accept landowner James Miles’ challenge to a May Appeals Court ruling finding that Texas Central qualifies as a railroad under Texas laws.
Late last week Miles petitioned the Court to take on his case but, just like the U.S. Supreme Court, the Texas Supreme Court is free to decline.
Miles’ arguments haven’t changed. He wants the top Texas court to decide that Texas Central isn’t a railroad until it has actual stations, trains and passengers – effectively arguing that Texas’ laws don’t permit any new railroad companies to form. He also in his petition repeats his claim that the Supreme Court must ignore Texas’ Code Construction Act and repudiate a three-year old decision the Court already made about how entities meet the test of being a common carrier. Miles’ team does this in part by suggesting that the Appeals Court created some kind of novel reading of the Code Construction Act, and by glossing over the rich vein of precedent the Appeals Court cited for its interpretation.
One thing has changed since Miles first decided to take his case to Texas’ top court: even if Miles doesn’t think Texas Central is a railroad, the U.S. Surface Transportation Board decided that it is, and that Texas Central will be an important part of the Nation’s intercity passenger rail network once it’s operating.
Rail Passengers continues to be dismayed to see this fight drag on given the degree to which Texas Central is trying to appease landowners. Moreover, this risks billions of dollars of economic growth and the potential to stimulate new travel not just on Texas Central but even on our publicly funded Amtrak network. Our hope is that the Texas Supreme Court declines to review the Appeals Court ruling. But if it does, Rail Passengers believes the Court would have to bend to the will of the legislature as expressed in the Texas statutes and allow Texas Central to keep doing what it needs to do so it can start this exciting new service.
"I’m so proud that we came together in bipartisan fashion in the Senate to keep the Southwest Chief chugging along, and I’m grateful for this recognition from the Rail Passengers Association. This victory is a testament to what we can accomplish when we reach across the aisle and work together to advance our common interests."
Senator Tom Udall (D-NM)
April 2, 2019, on receiving the Association's Golden Spike Award for his work to protect the Southwest Chief