Japan has indicated that it is willing to provide billions of dollars in funding as well as waive licensing charges to make maglev high speed rail a reality in the United States.
The Japan Times reports that the Japanese government has unofficially offered to finance half of the projected US$9.75 billion cost of building a maglev line between Washington DC and Boston.
The proposed maglev rail project would cover a distance of approximately 730 kilometres along the eastern coast of the continental United States, and would radically alter transportation dynamics in the region.
Travel time between New York and Washington DC would be reduced to an hour, making high speed rail swifter in many circumstances than air travel.
Central Japan Railway has also offered its proprietary technology to the US government free of licensing fees in order to bolster hopes for the project.
The offer is a major concession by Central Japan Railway, given that the licensing fees are generally considered a key means by which the company can earn a return on its developments.
The proprietary technology developed by Central Japan Railway enables its trains to run at speeds as high as 500 kilometres per hour by suspending them 10 centimetres in the air using the magnetic force generated by the interaction between superconductors and ground coils.
The hefty financial backing offered to the project by the Japanese government, which would be provided via the Japan Bank for International Cooperation, is part of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s efforts to revive the country’s stagnant economic growth via infrastructure-related exports.
Abe has already touted the merits of Japanese maglev technology to US President Barack Obama during a meeting in February 2013, as well as taken US Ambassador to Japan Caroline Kennedy on a ride on a test train in Yamanashi Prefecture.
The Japanese prime minister is expected to make a formal offer of technological assistance when he meets again with Obama in Tokyo at the end of April.
Winning the US project would create economies of scale that could significantly abet the efforts of Central Japan Railway to expand maglev rail domestically.
The company is poised to commence work on a maglev line between Tokyo and Nagoya that is scheduled to come online in 2027, with plans to extend the line to Osaka by 2045.