Texas Central names operating partner

Central Texas Partners released this map showing the likely route of a high-speed rail line between Dallas and Houston.

Graphic by Emily Albracht

Texas Central, developers of the planned high-speed railroad linking Houston and Dallas, named international railway company Renfe as the train’s operating partner Oct. 10.

Renfe is one of the world’s most significant railways operators, running 5,000 trains daily on 7,500 miles of track, Texas Central said in a news release. The company is integral to the transport system in Spain, its home base, handling more than 487 million passengers and 19.6 million tons of freight moved in 2017.

“After an intense review of the world’s best railroad operators, we were proud to select Renfe as the operator for the Texas Central Railroad. Renfe has established a reputation for excellence in railroad operation in Spain and across the world, and we welcome them aboard,” Texas Central CEO Carlos Aguilar said in the news release.

Renfe, in partnership with Adif, which manages Spanish railway infrastructure, was chosen after a highly competitive review of global railroad operating companies.

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Texas Central said Renfe will 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.

Renfe will run the trains, maintain system components, such as the engines, signals and other equipment, oversee ticketing, passenger loyalty programs and other services, the news release said.

“Today’s announcement is extraordinary news for Texans and for the Spanish railway industry,” Isaías Táboas, president of Renfe, said in the news release. “Texas Central represents a large high-speed train project in a country with high-growth potential, for which the Spanish experience will be of great help.”

The announcement came about a week after Texas Central said it had engaged the multinational firm Salini Impregilo ¬– operating in the U.S. market with The Lane Construction Corp. – to lead the civil construction consortium that will build the passenger line.

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Renfe is one of the biggest companies in Spain, employing nearly 14,000 people and recording revenues of 3.6 billion euros ($4.1 billion USD) in 2017. Its high-speed systems were used by more than 36 million passengers in 2017.

The planned 200 mph train will provide a safe, reliable and productive travel option linking the nation’s fourth and fifth largest economic regions in 90 minutes, with a midway stop in the Brazos Valley, Texas Central said in the news release.

The investor-led Texas project will be built and operated without taxpayer-funded state or federal grants. It will generate an estimated $36 billion in economic benefits statewide over the next 25 years, including creating 10,000 direct jobs per year during construction and 1,500 permanent jobs when fully operational, Texas Central said.

The Texas train will be based on the latest generation of Central Japan Railway’s Tokaido Shinkansen train system, which has operated for more than 54 years with a perfect record of zero passenger fatalities or injuries from operations, the news release said.

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“This is another in the growing list of world-class firms not just recognizing America’s first true high-speed train project but also wanting to be involved as central players in a great story, making it happen. This is a vote of confidence in one of our most iconic infrastructure projects,” said Norman Anderson, chairman and CEO of CG/LA, a Washington-based strategic group that focuses on infrastructure investment.

Texas Central said it and its partners are refining and updating construction planning and sequencing, guided by the Federal Railroad Administration’s recently released draft environmental impact statement.

The FRA now is working on a final environmental review that will help determine the project’s timeline and final route.

– FWBP Staff