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.
"On behalf of Amtrak’s onboard service staff, I want to thank the Rail Passengers Association for honoring their hard work with this award. The past couple years have indeed been difficult for Amtrak onboard service staff – coping with furloughs and job insecurity, adapting to changing protocols and services, not to mention the unfortunate events such as a tragic derailment and a fatal shooting. Nevertheless, our dedicated members at Amtrak have handled these hurdles with the care, attention and diligence for which they’re known. We thank Rail Passengers for their acknowledgement of our members’ hard work and, as always, look forward to seeing you on the rails."
Arthur Maratea, TCU/IAM National President
December 21, 2021, on the Association awarding its 2021 Golden Spike Award to the Frontline Amtrak Employees.