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Texas to get shinkansen system

by Scott Dixon

Kyodo

Texas Central Railway, a privately funded project aimed at bringing high-speed rail travel to the Lone Star State, hopes to revolutionize the U.S. transportation system by partnering with Central Japan Railway Co. to build a bullet train line between Dallas and Houston by 2021.

“If we could get this line built from Dallas to Houston, I think everyone in America would want the kind of high-speed rail we would have,” former U.S. Ambassador to Japan and senior adviser for TCR Thomas Schieffer said in a recent interview. “It has transformed Japan and I think it can transform the United States.”

The almost 400-km route will run through relatively flat land, which TCR says makes JR Tokai’s N700-I shinkansen ideal for whisking passengers between the two cities in around 90 minutes at speeds up to 322 kph. The company hopes to run one train every 30 minutes and increase the frequency as demand grows.

In Japan, the N700 series trains for the Nozomi bullet train service link Tokyo and Osaka in less than 2½ hours. Japan’s two major metropolises, roughly 400 km apart as the crow flies, are connected by a track that stretches just over 510 km.

“The topography in Texas is such that the N700 is pretty easy to do,” Schieffer said, adding that a bullet train would also be cheaper to build than the magnetically levitated train system JR is developing, a technology being considered for linking up cities in the Northeast.

TCR says JR Tokai will work closely with it to provide the operating mechanisms and technology needed to jump start high-speed rail travel in the United States.

“It’s a very smart thing to do from a Japanese standpoint, because as far as high-speed rail is concerned, the United States is really greenfield territory,” Schieffer said. “(JR Tokai’s partnership) has a chance to raise the profile of Japan in the United States and Texas in particular.”

TCR expects the metro areas of Dallas and Houston, with populations of about 6.4 million and 5.9 million, respectively, to double in size over the next 20 years as their large economies grow.

The company hopes to provide an attractive alternative to the crowded airports and traffic-clogged highways that serve the two cities. Ticket prices for the high-speed train will be “competitive” with airfares, Shieffer said.

“If we don’t do something to move people in larger numbers from metropolitan areas to metropolitan areas, the future growth that we’re going to have is going to smother it, not enhance our lifestyle,” he said.

Unlike other high-speed rail projects currently in development in the United States, privately held TCR, officially known as Texas Central High-Speed Railway, plans to build its network without government subsidies.

Although the project will have to rely solely on private investors, the company says its independence from tax dollars is a major strength.

“We think we can make it work as a private sector project and because of that, we think we can build it cheaper and faster than you could do it if you were depending on public funds,” Schieffer said.

Although the Texas company has not revealed the cost of obtaining the land, buying the trains and building the rail lines and stations needed, local media have reported that the project is expected to cost about $10 billion.

In June, the Federal Railroad Administration approved the company’s bid to begin an environmental impact study, a strategic first step in developing the exact route.

“This is just the beginning of high-speed rail in the United States,” Schieffer said. “We need this kind of technology in the United States and hopefully the success of our project will spawn many other successful projects around the country.”

  • Al_Martinez

    Great idea, but a couple of things to consider: the Tokaido Shinkansen between Tokyo and Osaka has a potential ridership of something like 80 million people…AND the ticket prices are steep. Can’t imagine how the no-government involvement, cheapskates in Texas are ever going to make this thing feasible.

  • larryscheib

    Perry only supports it because California is doing it and he is tired of being 2nd fiddle to California. They make it out as being the model of future US HSR, but I think California will have a leg of theirs up first. Flat terrain aside, what makes theirs so cheap is there is no passage through any cities. If reality ever sets in they’ll have to bite the bullet and pay the high cost of uprooting businesses and dealing with nimbys.

    • Jameika

      Where did you read anything about Perry supporting it? He’s a moron and I wouldn’t trust this if he did. The private company wants to do this and the Houston-Dallas route made the most sense for them.

  • adamhs

    Except public transportation is so bad in Dallas and Houston that you’ll need to rent a car once you get there…defeating the entire purpose of a bullet train.

    • Jameika

      Wouldn’t that defeat the entire purpose of flying, too, if that were a consideration?

      • adamhs

        Well yes and no. Airplanes and airports already exist. Texas still has to built the high speed rail and buy the trains…as a taxpayer in Texas…this is a boondoggle.

      • Jameika

        Then I’d suggest that complain about giant highway infrastructure projects that are paid for with taxes. This is a private company that plans to do it without public funding. They plan to operate just as the airlines do.

  • Al_Martinez

    “Ticket prices are steep because the line is overcrowded”

    I don’t agree. The line isn’t overcrowded and I think the new maglev is a waste–especially considering Japan’s shrinking population.

    Golden Week, Obon and New Year’s are the only times the Shinkansen is packed (and the ticket prices are the same for these times). Otherwise, the trains have plenty of seats.

  • Keith Sanders

    Texas Central Railway is privately funded enterprise. Its success will
    have nothing to do with Rick Perry.

    http://texascentral.com/the-project/

  • carlake

    Why not choose the German Transrapid TR09 instead? The COSTs will be one-fifth compared to the Japanese Chou -Shinkansen planned between Tokyo an Nagoya with start of commersial operation 2027. The 286 kilomtre long distance with four intermediate stations will have a travellinbg time of 40 minutes. The same technology is expected for the North-East Maglev Project.
    The German Transrapid COSTs just 20 to 32 Euro pro kilometre. The track can be colocated with existing highways as it allow rather small curve radious than ordinary HSR High Speed Train and can manage inclinations o compared to for instance the German HSR type ICEf ten percent. The thopography can remain intact between the consecutive pillars for the elevated track.
    The Maglev operate completely contact free with no mechanical tearing ad wearing as well as the mechanical parts to be replaced.
    The maintenance costs will be just one third for train and track although double the speed 500 km/h or 311 mph
    in 250 km/h or 155.5 mph.

    As effect of short acceleration distance reach 180 mph in 4.2 kilometre while HSR requires 20 to 30 kilometre.

    The German Maglev is more rigid, more effective less operation costly than HSR. The uplifted track can be built in a short period of time.

    As the total costs are lower than for HSR a cheeper ticket price can be allowed.

    Building time is shorter. Building costs are equal with HSR but the other costs are lower. Travelling time for a specific distance with no stops will be half compared to HSR while each intermediate stops extens the hourney time with four extra minutes.

    A Maglev track is easier to Project, can be done in a shorter period of time. Easier asttablishing as effect of prefabricated Concrete segments made in factory and transported to the erection Place. Every 25 metre segment will have a weight of 165 metric tons while an uplifted HSR do have a weight of 900 metric tons plus requires jobs as slabs, rail, sleepers, catenary and external signalling Equipment. The Maglev do not require catenary as well as the driverless magnetic levitation train do not need external signalling equipment.