Texas Central Wins Authority to Take Land for High-Speed Rail System

Vintage steam powered railway train

The Supreme Court of Texas held that Texas Central Railroad & Infrastructure, Inc. and related entities have eminent domain authority to acquire property for a proposed high-speed rail system between Dallas and Houston.

October 3, 2022
Barclay Nicholson & Erica Gibbons - Sheppard Mullin Construction & Infrastructure Law Blog

Move over luxury bus lines and quick flights. Central Texans should be on the lookout for bulldozers and train stops. On June 24, 2022, the Supreme Court of Texas held that Texas Central Railroad & Infrastructure, Inc. and related entities (collectively “Texas Central”) have eminent domain authority to acquire property for a proposed high-speed rail system between Dallas and Houston.[1] Specifically, the Court held that the corporation qualifies as an “interurban electric railway company” under the Texas Transportation Code. This ruling grants Texas Central the broad condemnation authority to procure land for the project.

Texas Central has Statutory Authority to Take Land
The plaintiff in the matter, a farm owner with property south of Dallas along the proposed path of the bullet train, challenged the companies power to condemn land. The landowner’s declaratory judgment action challenged Texas Central’s eminent-domain authority. Under Texas law, condemnation power must be conferred by the legislature, either expressly or by necessary implication.[2]

Here, Texas Central was created for the purpose of constructing, acquiring, maintaining, or operating lines of electric railway between Texas municipalities. The Court found that Texas Central is engaged in activities to further that purpose. Therefore, the Court concluded, that although legislators did not contemplate high-speed railways at the time of drafting the Transportation Code, Texas Central nonetheless qualified as “interurban electric railway companies” under the statute.

Reprinted courtesy of Barclay Nicholson, Sheppard Mullin and Erica Gibbons, Sheppard Mullin
Mr. Nicholson may be contacted at bnicholson@sheppardmullin.com
Ms. Gibbons may be contacted at egibbons@sheppardmullin.com



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