JR Tokai looking for big bullet-train deals in U.S.

by Kazuaki Nagata

Central Japan Railway Co. (JR Tokai) said Monday it is teaming up with U.S. companies to promote its N700-I bullet trains and maglev transportation system in U.S. states, targeting such corridors as the Tampa-Orlando-Miami route in Florida.

“One of the reasons why we’re putting special focus on the U.S. is because it’s a region that we think has the best potential to develop Japan’s high-speed railway system,” JR Tokai Chairman Yoshiyuki Kasai said at a news conference in Tokyo with the railway’s partners.

Kasai said that unlike European train systems, which value interoperability with existing trains, Japan’s bullet trains run on separate tracks.

Because almost all U.S. trains carry freight rather than people, there is a great chance of developing independent railway systems, Kasai said.

He also said the company will team up with U.S.-Japan High-Speed Rail and U.S.-Japan Maglev, which are both Washington-based companies founded in 2009, to actively promote the system.

They said they have already selected some target corridors, such as Tampa-Orlando-Miami and Las Vegas-Los Angeles, as well as Texas and the Midwest areas.

Each project could take about two to eight years, said Richard Lawless, CEO of U.S.-Japan High-Speed Rail. He said the Florida project is likely to move quickly, as the state is eager to develop the system.

The momentum for high-speed rail development appears to be growing with the Obama administration expected to announce soon how it will distribute $8 billion for high-speed rail development.

“It truly represents what we think is the beginning of a revolution in American transportation,” Lawless said.