High-Speed Rail

California’s high-speed rail system could be operated first by a foreign firm

High speed rail construction update for March 2017

A look at the construction progress being made on the California High-Speed Rail Project for March 2017.
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A look at the construction progress being made on the California High-Speed Rail Project for March 2017.

Five international teams of companies – all from nations with well-established passenger rail systems – have submitted their qualifications to handle the early ramp-up operation of California’s future high-speed rail program.

The California High-Speed Rail Authority received statements this week from British, Chinese, German, Italian and Spanish firms. The statements of qualifications is the first step toward selecting a consortium that will advise the authority as construction moves forward on the statewide bullet-train system and, later, become the first operator of the trains before a long-term franchise contract is awarded to run the system.

The teams are:

▪ China HSR ETO Consortium, a team of engineering and operating companies from China.

▪ DB International US, a team that includes Germany’s Deutsche Bahn AG and American subsidiary DB International USA Inc., Massachusetts-based Alternate Concepts Inc. and HDR Inc., based in Nebraska.

▪ FS First Rail Group, which includes Italian firms Ferrovie dello Stato Italiane S.p.A., Trenitalia, Rete Ferroviaria Italiana S.p.A., CentoStazioni S.p.A. and Italferr S.p.A., along with Britain’s FirstGroup plc and New York-based McKinsey & Company Inc.

▪ RENFE, a team that includes Spanish state-owned companies Renfe, which handles train operations in Spain, and Adif, which operate and maintains the nation’s railroad infrastructure, and private Spanish company Operadora Globalvia Inversiones S.A.U.

▪ Stagecoach Group plc, which operates trains and buses in Britain, and its American subsidiary Coach USA Administration Inc.

The teams’ qualifications will be evaluated and by the end of April, a short list of the companies will be invited to formally bid for the early operating contract. The first six-year stage of the contract, involving pre-operating consulting, is estimated by the rail authority to cost up to $30 million. The term and price for the second stage, which will include preparing for and carrying out the initial passenger operations train system, are to be negotiated later.

Construction on the first 119 miles of the rail system between Madera and Bakersfield is ongoing. The rail authority is moving ahead with plans to build an initial operating section from the San Joaquin Valley to San Jose at a cost of about $20 billion, with a goal of starting to carry paying passengers in 2025.