Thursday, September 23, 2010

Texan Bullet Trains?

Houston Tomorrow reports:
A possible Houston to Dallas high-speed rail line was the topic of a Monday morning breakfast meeting featuring Yoshiyuki Kasai, the chairman of Central Japan Railway, Japan’s largest rail company and maker of the famed Japanese “bullet trains.” Kasai was hosted by the Greater Houston Partnership (GHP). 
The company is developing plans to build a Houston/Dallas high speed rail (largely privately financed) as the first phase of a Texas system, according to the GHP invitation. Kasai used the meeting to brief the region’s business leaders on the details and opportunities that Houston-Dallas high-speed rail service would bring to the Houston region. 
Central Japan Railway manufactures the Shinkansen “bullet trains” common in Japan, and also has recently begun marketing a new maglev train. The Shinkansen Series N700 is billed by Japan Railways as the world’s fastest bullet train in service (France’s faster TGV train has been used only to break speed records), with a top speed of 186 mph. The Japanese maglev train has been tested at 361 mph.
Houston METRO board member Christof Spieler notes, "I was amazed at how committed they are to Texas. They see it as the best place in the U.S. for high speed rail, and they're putting a lot of energy into this project. There's a high level of demand, it's a perfect distance and the flat landscape makes for relatively easy construction."

The best part? "In the past, the state has sought federal funds to create such a route, but this would appear to be a mostly privately financed plan, aimed at boosting business in Houston and North Texas," according to the Dallas Morning News.