Jr Tokai Lets U.s. Governor Take Joy Ride On Maglev Train

JR Tokai lets U.S. governor take joy ride on maglev trainMaryland Governor Larry Hogan took a 505-kph train ride on June 4 as Central Japan Railway Co. (JR Tokai) continued its pitch to construct a magnetic-levitation line connecting Washington and Baltimore.

JR Tokai invited about 20 officials of the Maryland state government to ride the maglev prototype on a test track here.

After the ride, Hogan told reporters that it was an unforgettable experience, and that he wanted to see further developments in the innovative technology.

“I think they were able to feel that the technology is complete,” Yoshiyuki Kasai, JR Tokai’s chairman emeritus, said.

The company has been lobbying in the United States to take part in the High Speed Intercity Passenger Rail Program envisioned by the Obama administration.

The invitation of Hogan and his staff was an important move in the company’s quest to obtain a contract for the stretch of 60 kilometers or so between Washington and Baltimore.

JR Tokai has been pushing exports of its technologies for its maglev train and operating systems. Expansion in foreign markets would allow the company to reduce overall costs by mass-producing train cars and parts and promote developments of the technologies in Japan.

However, the estimated price tag of 1 trillion yen ($8 billion) for the Washington-Baltimore route has raised doubts about the line’s profitability.

Tokyo has indicated it would provide financial assistance if the U.S. government acquires JR Tokai’s maglev trains. But Washington has not made any decision on the matter.

“There will be no progress without the U.S. government’s actual decision to construct maglev lines,” a senior JR Tokai official said. “We have to keep convincing them from a long-term perspective."