TCR discusses new bullet train to connect Dallas, Houston

A room full of hands shot in the air after a representative for Texas Central Railway asked, “How many of you have made the trip from Houston to Dallas, or vice versa,” at the Student Government Association meeting Tuesday.

By 2021, a breakthrough transportation could change the aggravating commute. The TCR bullet train will provide a new, less than 90 minute ride of seemingly silent transportation from Houston to Dallas, offering a stop somewhere near Huntsville.

TCR, a private, for-profit organization, furthered their presentation by discussing how to get from point A to point B in the most efficient way possible. Today, the average trip between two of some of the nation’s largest cities can cost up to four hours of drive time, mass amounts of traffic-induced stress or hundreds of dollars for a plane ticket.

The train will offer first-class seating with comfortable leg room along with full food and beverage services during the guaranteed “less than 90 minute” trip. Ticket prices, although not yet definite, will be competitive with airline tickets and rental cars will be available in both stations when passengers arrive downtown.

Modeled after the bullet trains in Japan and much of Europe, the TCR train will be able to advertise itself as the safest mode of transportation. According to TCR’s website, the same high-speed bullet trains that will be in Texas have been operating overseas for almost 50 years without a single derailment, injury or fatality.

SGA’s College of Science senator Drew Carson, among others, questioned a different safety concern aside from the train’s physical security. The train service will offer free Internet connection throughout the entire duration of the trip, which birthed Carson’s concern of cyber terrorism.

Carson explains that two major concerns exist when talking about Internet security on the train. The first, a slightly less foreseeable event, is the thought of someone hacking the electrical system and then using that power to shut off the train in an instant, which, at 205 mph, could be dangerous to passengers. The second, however, is much more common and worrisome.

“There will be all different walks of life on this train and if all these people have access to the same network, everything can be linked together,” Carson said.

For example, if a CEO is working on a new project and the right person has the right software to sneak around the network, that person can have access to all of the CEO’s files, emails and even protected information.

“If the network is not protected, that’s what could happen,” Carson said. “Someone could have your entire bank account on their computer without you even knowing it.”

Because the bullet train is still in the beginning stages of production, the representatives could not give a sufficient answer to Carson’s question. However, TCR released this statement to the Houstonian Thursday.

“Reasonable and appropriate measures will be taken to protect this system’s passengers and infrastructure from attack. Because it will be built, owned and operated by a private company, we expect security measures to reflect international best practices, state of the art technology, and an exceptional degree of flexibility, innovation, responsiveness, and common sense.”

Although these concerns exist, optimism for the construction of the bullet train is at a high.

“I’m going to take a train because I think it’s a really cool experience, it’s just fun to take a train,” Carson said. “It’s expensive, but it’s a part of the experience. They’re going to have to be competitive with Greyhounds and airfare, but hopefully that will make the airlines lower their prices and ticket prices everywhere will decrease.”

To find out more information, visit TCR’s public interest meeting Oct. 28 from 4:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. at the H.E.A.R.T.S. Veteran Museum of Texas.

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