With the high-speed rail between Dallas and Houston serving as the first non-government project of its type in the U.S., Texas Central said the company is constantly searching for best-in-class partners.
It recently hired two more major players as the project bullets toward fruition.
According to Texas Central, the company has most recently hired global construction and engineering firm Salini Impregilo and international railway company Renfe as the latest partners in the high-speed rail project, which could begin construction late next year if all goes according to plan. The Houston station would be located at the former Northwest Mall site at the intersection of U.S. 290 and Interstate 610.
The chief general manager of Central Japan Railway Company, which also is partnering with Texas Central, told WFAA in Dallas that the project is on schedule with initial projections.
“We will start the construction next year,” Masaru Yosano told WFAA.
Texas Central hopes the bullet train will open as soon as 2024, and construction could take about five years. However, the company reiterated a previous report that the timeline is contingent on the Federal Railroad Administration’s final environmental impact statement. The FRA is working on a final environmental review that will help determine the project’s timeline and final route, which will incorporate data from months of public feedback opportunities and meetings that concluded in March.
A Dallas Morning News report from September said the FRA hopes make a decision on the project by the end of August 2019, but an FRA spokesperson declined to confirm a set date beyond “late 2019” for the release of a final impact statement or decision.
Meanwhile, the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality and Texas Central concluded a series of hearings in September. It typically takes a year or longer to issue a permit, add conditions or deny a permit.
“Construction will proceed after all environmental reviews and permitting activities have concluded,” the company said.
Renfe and Salini Impregilo join project manager Bechtel and construction giant Fluor Enterprises Inc., as major partners laying initial groundwork for the project.
“Salini Impregilo’s knowledge and experience in designing, building and leading large-scale railway projects across the world is impressive, and its presence in the U.S. market with Lane is also strategic for the project,” Texas Central CEO Carlos Aguilar said in a statement. “Their inclusion highlights the stature of the Texas project and the interest of global infrastructure companies to be part of America’s first high-speed train.”
Salini Impregilo will be responsible for all work up to the top of the rail, including viaducts, embankments and drainage.
“This is a wonderful opportunity for us,” Pietro Salini, CEO of the Salini Impregilo Group, said in a statement. “We are delighted to be invited to take part to bring high-speed train service to Texas.”
Should the project come to fruition, Renfe would provide technical advice on the design and construction of the Texas train and assist in the further development of Texas Central’s operation and maintenance plans, preparing the railroad for passenger service. Renfe would run the trains, maintain system components such as the engines, signals and other equipment and oversee ticketing, passenger loyalty programs and other services.
“Texas Central represents a large high-speed train project in a country with high-growth potential,” Renfe president Isaías Táboas said in a statement.