BUSINESS

Spanish rail company wins €5.6 billion contract to operate high-speed network in the United States

Renfe will be responsible for the line between Houston and Dallas in what will be the largest ever deal reached by a state-owned company outside of Spain

A mock-up of the high-speed train line between Dallas and Houston.
A mock-up of the high-speed train line between Dallas and Houston.TEXAS CENTRAL

Spain’s state-owned rail company Renfe has won a $6 billion (€5.56 billion) contract to operate a high-speed train line between the cities of Dallas and Houston in the United States – the biggest contract ever secured by a Spanish public company outside of Spain, according to a press release issued by the firm on Wednesday.

Around 10,000 jobs will be created in the building phase, and 1,500 in the operation phase

The contract, details of which were published by Spanish business daily Cinco Días in December and confirmed by Transportation Minister José Luis Ábalos on Thursday, is currently in the drafting stage, according to Renfe sources.

The deal will be signed with private consortium Texas Central Partners, which may extend the high-speed network between the cities of Austin and San Antonio, and collaborate on more projects with Renfe.

The Spanish rail company will not be involved in the construction of the line, or provide the trains for the high-speed network. The contract is solely for providing technical advice and assisting in the operation of the line, according to sources from Renfe. The engineering work will be done by the Texan company Bechtel, while construction will be overseen by Fluor Enterprise Inc and Lane Construction, US subsidiaries of Italian industrial group Salini Impregilo. Around 10,000 jobs will be created in the building phase, and 1,500 in the operation phase.

Spain’s first high-speed line in the US

The high-speed line between Houston and Dallas-Fort Worth will connect the two cities, which are 386 kilometers apart, in less than 90 minutes.

The Renfe board of directors will review the contract on Monday, and it will be signed by the Spanish company’s US subsidiary, Renfe of America. This operation is part of Renfe’s strategic plan for the 2019-2023 period, which includes progressively increasing the volume of its business outside of Spain and preparing for greater competition for when domestic rail markets in the European Union are opened up in December 2020.

As well as the stations in Dallas-Fort Worth and Houston, the line will have an intermediate station in Brazos Valley. All of the stations will be connected to highways and public transportation, and have ample parking space.

Texas Central Partners, a private business backed by investors, plans to develop the project without state or federal funding. Registered as a rail company, Texas Central Partners has been working with federal and state authorities since 2014 on the project to connect the fourth- and fifth-most important economic regions in the United States.

According to Texas Central Partners, the high-speed line could generate up to $36 billion (€33.31 billion) for the state of Texas over the next 25 years. The project in Texas is the first of its kind in the world that is 100% privately owned.

English version by Melissa Kitson.

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