Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Bullet Train from Japan is aimed at US shores.


Everyone the U.S. is expecting BIG job news the day after President Obama delivers "State of the Nation" address.  The day after President Obama is rumored to announce the release of $8 billion for High Speed Rail during his first stop in Tampa.  One of the states competing (as a last moment hail mary attempt) is Florida running from Tampa to Orlando then to MCO (Orlando Airport).  This is an excerpt of how TOKYO is aiming to try and land some bullet train dollars.

TOKYO—The iconic needle-nosed Japanese "bullet train" could speed through the swampy marshlands of central Florida if Yoshiyuki Kasai, the chairman of Central Japan Railway Co., gets his way.
Mr. Kasai on Monday announced efforts to bring the shinkansen, Japan's bullet train, to the U.S. JR Central's push to enter the U.S. comes as Washington prepares to announce how $8 billion in federal stimulus money set aside for high-speed passenger-train service is carved up.
Bloomberg News
Central Japan Railway hopes to sell its shinkansen train, seen Monday in Tokyo, for a high-speed rail project proposed in Florida.
JR Central is up against some tough competition, however. Dozens of international companies, including Germany's SiemensAG, Canada's Bombardier Inc., France'sAlstom SA and General Electric Co. andLockheed Martin Corp. of the U.S. all are clamoring for a piece of the pie, which is meant in part to create U.S. jobs. The Obama administration is expected to announce as early as this week what projects will receive stimulus funds.

The $8 billion "is oversubscribed by a factor of eight to one," said Richard Lawless, chief executive of U.S.-Japan High Speed Rail, a consulting company JR Central created to market the bullet train. "Of all the corridors we looked at, the one that looks the most promising and immediate is Florida."
The proposed Florida high-speed rail would cost a total of $3.5 billion to construct, including rolling stock, JR Central said.
Congress attached "Buy America" provisions to the stimulus spending aimed at favoring U.S. firms. But JR Central has structured its package in the hopes of meeting those provisions. Officials from U.S.-Japan Maglev, another JR Central consulting company, said they would ask Florida companies to construct the infrastructure for the train, including the signals and track. Part of the rolling stock, or cars, would be built in the U.S. by U.S. companies.

The Japanese rail system is renowned for its efficiency, speed, punctuality—trains arrive to the minute—and its impeccable, white-gloved conductors who bow to passengers as they board and depart trains.
Until now, there hasn't been a huge push to market the shinkansen abroad. But faced with a declining population and recent reductions in highway tolls during the holidays, which encourage people to drive during heavy travel periods, JR Central wants to expand abroad.
JR Central is one of six former state-owned railed companies that were privatized in 1987. It operates the bustling service between Tokyo and Osaka, which accounts for 80% of JR Central's revenue. But its profit has declined recently, to 126 billion yen for the fiscal year ended March 31 from 159.7 billion yen in fiscal 2008. Profit is expected to fall slightly this year and drop to 85 billion yen for fiscal 2011.

For far too long, the U.S. has neglected our passenger-rail system," said Mr. Patterson, of U.S.-Japan Maglev. "Now finally we are bringing it into the twenty-first century."