The company aiming to build a high-speed railway between Dallas and Houston in Texas – America’s first high-speed railway, if built – has secured a $300m loan from Japanese state lenders, sparking ire from a French group that wanted to build the line.
Texas Central Partners will use the cash to progress permitting, design and engineering, according to The Dallas Morning News, reported the AP news agency.
Two Japanese-government agencies are supporting an attempt to corner the market with technology that lacks interoperability and creates a monopoly on the future of Texas high-speed rail– Scott Dunaway, SNCF America
The loan gives the company sufficient equity to move forward with construction once the scheme, provisionally costed at up to $15bn, receives official approval, said reports.
Japan is willing to lend the money because the company plans to use Japanese Tokaido Shinkansen bullet trains and technology for the 386-km line.
Lenders are the Japan Bank for International Cooperation (JBIC), wholly owned by the Japanese government, and Japan Overseas Infrastructure Investment Corporation for Transport & Urban Development, or JOIN, which is 87% owned by the government.
"By strengthening support for exporting Japan’s Shinkansen system to the United States, this financing is expected to contribute to maintaining and increasing the international competitiveness of Japanese companies," JBIC said in a statement.
"This is a loan to be paid back with interest," said Texas Central Partners in a statement. "It does not change the train’s majority-Texan ownership."
According to reports, the new train would make a 90-minute trip from Dallas to Houston, with one stop near Texas A&M University in Grimes County.
Texas Central Partners has said trains could be running by 2024.
The project is being studied by the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality and the Federal Railroad Administration, with a decision from the latter not expected before the end of August 2019.
News of the Japanese loan prompted a sharp response from France’s state-owned rail firm, SNCF, which has promoted a rival high-speed rail scheme for the state.
"Two Japanese-government agencies are supporting an attempt to corner the market with technology that lacks interoperability and creates a monopoly on the future of Texas high-speed rail," Scott Dunaway, spokesperson for SNCF America, said in a statement today.
He added: "This project is right for Japanese companies subsidised by Japanese taxpayers and wrong for Texas. Nowhere in the world have high-speed rail projects become reality without government participation. The flawed design of this particular project will likely eliminate future rail service along the Interstate-35 growth corridor for generations. Texans must regain control of the high-speed transportation policy debate in the state and thoughtfully consider alternative planning."
Image: Texas central plans to use N700 Series Shinkansen trains from Japan for America’s first high-speed railway (Mitsuki-2368/Wikimedia Commons)