Texas high-speed rail eyes Japanese partners

Texas Central Partners LLC, a U.S. company aiming to build a high-speed rail link in the southern state, is envisaging Japanese companies potentially providing vehicles and technologies for its planned bullet train service connecting Dallas and Houston.

In a recent phone interview with Kyodo News, Texas Central CEO Tim Keith reiterated that the shinkansen technology of Central Japan Railway Co. (JR Central), Japan’s lead bullet train operator, will be employed for linking the two major cities, about 385 kilometers apart.

“Texas Central Partners is one hundred percent committed to the shinkansen system with JR Central as our life-of-system partner,” Keith said.

Nearly 50,000 Texans, sometimes called “super-commuters,” travel back and forth between Houston and Dallas/Fort Worth more than once a week. Many others make the trip very regularly. The approximately 240-mile high-speed rail line will offer a total travel time of less than 90 minutes, with convenient departures every 30 minutes during peak periods each day, and every hour during off-peak periods – with 6 hours reserved each night for system maintenance and inspection.

Cars, trucks, 18-wheelers and motorcycles crowd Interstate 45 between Houston and Dallas, with travel times often approaching and sometimes exceeding five hours, depending on road and weather conditions. The Texas Department of Transportation estimates that this trek could take upwards of 6.5 hours by 2035. Similarly, a 2010 study of intercity travel in Texas estimated that the average travel speeds of approximately 60 mph along the I-45 corridor would drop almost 35 percent to 40 mph – making for a 6.5-hour drive between Dallas and Houston. This increase in travel time is even with all planned improvements and increased highway capacity.

Passengers on the high-speed rail system will leave traffic jams, construction delays and flat tires behind as they zip effortlessly between the two cities.

The N700 train consumes 1/8th less energy per seat and expends 1/12th carbon dioxide than a Boeing B777-200.