According to The Asahi Shimbun, Tokyo will pour millions of dollars into a U.S. company to pave the way for the introduction of Shinkansen bullet train technology in the United States.
The investment, planned by a Japanese government-affiliated fund, is seen as a key step in plans for bullet trains to be whizzing through the countryside of Texas.
Central Japan Railway Co. (JR Tokai) is planning to export trains based on the N700 series that runs on the Tokaido Shinkansen Line.
The technology would be used to build a high-speed rail system connecting the Texas cities of Dallas-Fort Worth and Houston, which lie about 400 kilometers apart.
The high-speed trains would cover the distance in roughly 90 minutes.
Because of the huge price tag that comes with constructing the railway line and purchasing the rail cars, the Japan Overseas Infrastructure Investment Corporation for Transport and Urban Development (JOIN) intends to invest between $30 million and US $40 million (3.7 billion yen and 4.9 billion yen) in Texas Central Partners (TCP), a company that is in charge of the project.
JOIN was established by the government in 2014 to support the export of infrastructure projects, a key pillar of the "Abenomics" policies to strengthen Japan's economy.
An environmental impact assessment of the project will be completed by the U.S. Transportation Department in 2016, and construction would then likely start the following year.
Officials of JOIN visited the United States in November and are now ironing out the final details of the investment plan.
TCP collected about US$75 million in investments from local real estate developers and other companies in July. It plans to use the investment from JOIN and other partners to design tunnels and bridges along the high-speed rail line as well as formulate a detailed construction plan.
The biggest hurdle is the overall cost of the project, which is estimated at more than US$12 billion (about 1.5 trillion yen).
The outlay by JOIN could lead to more investors, both in the United States and elsewhere, taking part in the project, such as the Japan Bank for International Cooperation, which is considering it.
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