// Tuesday, March 30, 2010By CHRIS COOPERBloomberg
Walt Disney World in Florida may be the next stop for bullet train makers in Japan and China.
Neck and neck: Bullet trains sit in a switching yard in Tokyo in early March. BLOOMBERG PHOTO // //
Central Japan Railway Co. (JR Tokai) and China South Locomotive & Rolling Stock Corp. are competing for the $8 billion that President Barack Obama has granted for 13 high-speed corridors in the United States, including a Tampa-Orlando line that could include a station at the Walt Disney resort in Orlando.
France’s Alstom, Germany’s Siemens and Canada’s Bombardier also want to sell trains, tracks and operating equipment under an initiative that Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood called “an absolute game-changer for American transportation.”
The high-speed corridors include New York-Buffalo, N.Y.; Los Angeles-San Francisco; and Chicago-Detroit.
“High-speed rail is going to be a big industry in the U.S.,” said Masayuki Kubota of Daiwa SB Investments. “A lot of companies are going to try and get a piece of the action.”
Bullet trains are generally considered to be those traveling faster than 290 kph. Japan’s shinkansen is the world’s first bullet train and the nation has the biggest high-speed network, carrying 308 million people in the 12 months through March 2009.
By comparison, Amtrak’s Acela Express, which can reach 240 kph mph between Washington and Boston, carried 3.4 million passengers in fiscal 2008. Amtrak, which received $112 million of the Obama package to upgrade its Northeast Corridor, uses trains from Alstom and Bombardier, the world’s biggest maker of passenger locomotives.
Nagoya-based JR Tokai is working with U.S.-Japan High-Speed Rail, backed by Washington-based New Magellan Ventures, to sell its train systems in North America.
“Florida is at the top of our list,” JR Tokai Chairman Yoshiyuki Kasai said. “Our marketing partners in the U.S. have been in close contact with the routes we have targeted.”
Those include Texas and a line between Los Angeles and Las Vegas, he said.
JR Tokai controls Japan’s largest maker of bullet trains, Nippon Sharyo, and showcased its trains to representatives from U.S. high-speed rail groups in November. Its N700 model accelerated past 300 kph within minutes of leaving a station in western Japan.
“It was probably the smoothest high-speed train I’ve been on,” Robert Eckels, chairman of the Texas High Speed Rail & Transportation Corp., said as he stood on the platform after the midnight run.
The not-for-profit corporation aims to link San Antonio, Dallas-Fort Worth, and Houston by 2020.