Private company Texas Central High-speed Railway (TCR) is looking to bring high speed rail to the Lone Star state with the assistance of the Japanese company responsible for constructing the world-renowned Shinkansen train system.
TCR plans to build a near 400-kilometre high speed rail line between between Dallas and Houston, using Central Japan Railway Co.’s N700-I series of shinkansen trains.
The trains, which are capable of achieving speeds of up to 322 kilometres per hour, would reduce travel time between the two cities to just 90 minutes, departing once every half hour at the outset of operation.
In Japan, the N700 series of high speed trains already connects the cities of Tokyo and Osaka, which are separated by a distance of 400 kilometres as the crow flies. The line traverses a distance of 510 kilometres in total, yet has reduced travel time between the two cities to under two and a half hours.
The Tokyo-Osaka line is the busiest high speed rail connection in the world, while Japan’s system as a whole enjoyed the highest annual passenger ridership of any high speed rail network on the planet until 2011, when China ousted it from the top spot with 370 million passengers per year.
Dallas and Houston are highly suited to a high speed rail connection given their large population size and economic importance, as well as the fact that the terrain between the two cities is comparatively flat.
The populations of the greater metropolitan areas of Dallas and Houston currently stand at 6.4 million and 6.8 million respectively, and are expected by TCR to double in size over the next two decades on the back of economic growth.
TCR believes high speed rail could be the best and most affordable solution for connecting the two cities, comparing favourably with air travel in terms of cost and convenience.
The privately funded initiative differs from other high speed rail projects in the United States due to its lack of government subsidies. While the company has not publicly disclosed the cost of the project, local media has cited a figure within the vicinity of US$10 billion.
Despite lacking fiscal assistance from the government, the company enjoys formidable support in the form of Thomas Schieffer, a former US Ambassador to Japan who now works as senior adviser to TCR.
Schieffer believes the Dallas-Houston line will mark the “beginning of high-speed rail in the United States,” serving to demonstrate its viability in the country and hopefully spawn similar projects elsewhere.
The US Federal Railroad Administration approved an environmental impact study for the line in June, serving a major strategic milestone for the progress of the project.