Texas Supreme Court hears arguments in Miles v. Texas Central
At issue is whether Texas Central Railroad qualifies under the Texas Constitution’s definition of a rail company.
LEON COUNTY, Texas (KBTX) - The Supreme Court of Texas heard arguments in the case of James Fredrick Miles v. Texas Central Railroad & Infrastructure, Inc. and Integrated Texas Logistics, Inc.
The case focuses on whether Texas Central Railroad, a private company and developer of a proposed high-speed rail project connecting Dallas and Houston, qualifies under the Texas Constitution’s definition of a rail company. By qualifying as a rail company, they would therefore be eligible to exercise eminent domain authority to build the 240-mile rail line.
Leon County Farm Bureau member James Miles sued Texas Central after the company attempted to secure permission in 2015 to survey the 600 acre-tract he owns in Leon County. If Texas Central’s proposed route is constructed, it would bisect Miles’ property with a 100-foot right-of-way.
In court, Miles’ representation, Jeffrey Levinger, argued that Texas Central is not a rail company because it has not taken crucial steps toward operation such as laying track or running cars.
“They don’t have tracks. They don’t have trains. They don’t have facilities. Frankly, they don’t have money,” Levinger said.
Marie Yeates, who represents the respondents, argued that Texas Central is, in fact, a rail enterprise, because it’s engaging in railroad activities with a reasonable probability the project will eventually result in trains running on tracks.
“It’s undisputed this train is going to carry the public between Dallas and Houston,” Yeates said.
Before the case made its way to the Supreme Court of Texas, Attorney General Ken Paxton argued in a 46-page legal brief why Texas Central and its associated company do not qualify for railroad status in the state of Texas.
“The respondents are not operating anything resembling a railroad. That they might possibly do so someday is not enough,” the Paxton said.
The legal brief is available in its entirety here.
A full playback of the arguments can be viewed below:
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