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As CEO of Texas Central resigns, some Texans wonder: Is high-speed rail project dead?

Posted at 7:32 PM, Jun 14, 2022
and last updated 2022-06-14 20:35:41-04

Texas Central CEO Carlos F. Aguilar announced his resignation from the high-speed rail company via his LinkedIn account over the weekend.

For years, Texas Central has been planning a multi-billion dollar bullet train project to connect Houston to Dallas, traveling through parts of the Brazos Valley such as Leon and Grimes counties.

Some wonder if Aguilar's resignation is the beginning of the end for the high-speed rail project.

On LinkedIn, Aguilar issued a long statement that the announcement comes as a reaction to international news.

“While I could not align our current stakeholders on a common vision for a path forward, I wish the project the greatest success and remain convinced of the importance of this venture for the safety and prosperity of ALL Texans," the LinkedIn post said.

Word has spread to an opposing non-profit, Texans Against High Speed Rail, that Texas Central board member Drayton McLane Jr. has also left the company, though KRHD could not confirm this directly from McLane or Texas Central.

European news company La Informacion reported on the issue due to Spanish company Renfe 's involvement in the project. The article said almost the entire management team for Texas Central has abandoned the company.

Texas Central’s website lists no one under their leadership directory at this time.

"Robert Eckels was the first president [of Texas Central], Tim Keith was the second one, and then Carlos Aguilar," said Peter Lacody, president of the nonprofit Texas Rail Advocates. "I knew Carlos very well, and wish him the best on his future endeavors. We are kind of concerned, though, that it’s been six months since the Texas Supreme Court opened the case against Texas Central, and there hasn’t been a decision handed down yet. That tends to have a very chilling effect on progress, and it does put investors on hold.”

In the recent case of James Miles versus Texas Central, Miles is a Leon County landowner who has taken Texas Central to court, claiming the company is not yet a legitimate railroad company with right to take his land by way of eminent domain.

“I’m still calling upon the Texas Legislature to ensure that eminent domain and condemnation is not abused like this in the future," said Trey Duhon, president of Texans Against High Speed Rail.

The nonprofit have stood by in support of Miles as he has gone through court proceedings, which began in January.

"Private property rights have to mean something in Texas," Duhon said.

Lacody advocates for the continuation of the project, stressing that the bullet train will be privately funded, will only use small slivers of land, and that the company has met nearly all federal requirements for operating as a full-fledged railroad company.

Texans Against High Speed Rail believe Texas Central has not been considerate of rural landowners and private citizens. They eagerly await what they think could be the end of an unwanted project.

“When the captain abandons ship, you know it’s done," Duhon said. "... But I think for the Texas Supreme Court case, we’re still optimistic that case will come out on the right side. And that will basically put a nail in the coffin.”