The plan to build a high-speed train between Dallas and Houston is picking up financial steam.
The Japan Overseas Infrastructure Investment Corporation for Transportation & Urban Development (JOIN) has agreed to invest $40 million in the project. That's in addition to $75 million from Texas-based investors.
Texas Central Partners, the private company developing the train, estimates the cost of building the 240-mile rail line at $10 to $12 billion.
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"We have interest expressed from all over the world – and from all over Texas, in particular – in terms of the project," said Tim Keith, CEO of Texas Central.
Keith said future funding could come from more private investors, the U.S. Department of Transportation and Japanese sources such as JOIN.
JOIN's mission is to promote the export of Japanese know-how and technology.
"This is of national significance to Japan," said Keith.
A top official at the Japanese Ministry in charge of transportation described the Dallas-Houston train as his "number one project."
Kyle Workman, president of Texans Against High-Speed Rail, wonders if the rail line is in the best interest of Texas.
"It's clear that Japan is heavily involved," Workman said.
Workman is also concerned about the project's financial viability. He is skeptical of claims by Texas Central that enough Texans will ride the train to make it profitable.
"People are not going to give up their cars," Workman said.
Without enough riders, Workman fears that Texas taxpayers may ultimately have to fund a bailout.
"We don't want to see Texas saddled with this project long-term," he said.
Workman wants a guarantee that no taxpayer money will be spent on the plan.
Texas Central says it has no plans to lose its investors' money.
"We expect it to be successful, and the risk that's being taken is being taken and borne by our investors," said Keith.
The company hopes to start construction in 2017 and begin carrying paying passengers in 2022.
Texas Central is scheduling a number of public hearings across the state to discuss the project.
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