During a trip to Asia next week, Gov. Rick Perry will meet with the president of a bullet train operator involved in an effort to develop a high-speed rail line between Dallas and Houston, his office confirmed Friday.
Perry is scheduled to meet with Central Japan Railway Company President Koei Tsugi on Monday in Tokyo. Spokesman Felix Browne described the meeting as one of several “business recruitment meetings” he has planned during a weeklong trip, which also includes a visit to China.
Japan Railway Company, also known as J.R. Central, has been working with Texas Central High-Speed Railway on a privately funded high-speed rail line between Houston and Dallas for several years. Texas Central officials have said they hope to begin operations by 2021. The project is in the middle of a federal review that is expected to take more than a year. A separate federal review of a high-speed rail line between Dallas and Fort Worth that local officials have said they intend to be an extension of the Texas Central project officially kicked off on Friday.
Texas Central officials have described J.R. Central as a “promotional and technical partner.” If the project moves forward, J.R. Central would sell its trains to the company and play some advisory role on the system’s operations, but the extent of its intended involvement is unclear.
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Perry has not taken a public position on the project, though some Republican officials have spoken approvingly of Texas Central’s intention to avoid public subsidies.
Along with the meeting with Tsugi, Perry is also scheduled to deliver a speech to the American Chamber of Commerce in Japan and sit on a panel discussion on global economic issues at the World Economic Forum in Tianjin, China.
The trip will be paid for by TexasOne, a nonprofit corporation that has funded several other economic development trips for Perry, and Americans for Economic Freedom, a tax-exempt political action committee, according to Perry’s office.
In July, Texas Central spent $18,108 to cover the costs of two Texas Department of Transportation officials to travel to Japan as a fact-finding mission to learn more about high-speed rail, according to TxDOT spokesman Bob Kaufman.