Texas Central Signs Up Spain’s Renfe As Early Operator of High-Speed Dallas-Houston Railway

As the Early Operator of the Dallas-Houston line, Renfe will help Texas Central design and develop commercial aspects of the system and advise and consult on final design, execution, construction, testing, and the commissioning of everything from station and buildings to core systems and O&M tech.

Texas high speed train 90 minute houston dallas

Texas Central, developers of the high-speed train between Dallas and Houston, has signed a contract making Spain-based Renfe the Early Operator for the project.

We wrote last year that Texas Central had awarded a $5.9 billion contract to Renfe to develop and operate the service. Today’s step moves things further down the track.

The news comes one month after Texas Central signed a $16 billion contract with Webuild as the design-build lead on the railway.

Renfe served 510 million passengers in 2019

If you want your high-speed trains to have an accent, Spanish should do the trick. Renfe already runs 5,000 trains daily on 7,500 miles of track—much of that in Spain, where it’s a central driver of the country’s transport system. It served 510 million passengers and moved 17 million tons of freight in 2019. Renfe has 30 years of experience operating high-speed trains in Spain, which is #2 in the world after China in high-speed rail lines.

From commercial aspects to O&M tech and more

As the Early Operator of the Dallas-Houston line, Renfe will help Texas Central design and develop commercial aspects of the system and advise and consult on final design, execution, construction, testing, and the commissioning of everything from station and buildings to core systems and O&M tech. 

“Renfe has an established reputation for excellence in railroad operations in Spain and across the world,” said Texas Central CEO Carlos Aguilar in a statement. “With their decades of expertise, they were a natural fit to join our team of best-in-class global experts setting the foundation for this new jobs-creating industry we are bringing to Texas.”

Isaías Táboas, president of Renfe Operador, noted that his company is the only operator in the world that’s helped design, develop, operate and maintain a high-speed train system outside of its home country.

“High-speed rail provides a safe, time efficient, and environmentally friendly transportation option,” Táboas said in the statement. “We truly believe that the Texas Central Railroad project meets all the conditions to become the first truly high-speed system in the U.S. and that it will be a game changer for the state and the country.”

Modeled after Japanese rail system

The railway Texas Central plans for Texas will replicate the Japan’s Tokaido Shinkansen high-speed rail system—one of the safest and most punctual train systems on earth. It’s transported over 10 billion passengers in the last 55+ years, with zero accidents and zero operational passenger fatalities since it was first deployed. 

Texas Central estimates the project will create 17,000 direct jobs during six years of construction, over 20,000 supply chain jobs, and 1,400-plus direct permanent jobs once the train is fully operational. The Texas Central project plans to use $7.3 billion of materials from companies across 37 U.S. states. Over the next quarter century, Texas Central estimates the project will have a direct cumulative economic impact of $36 billion

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