Italian infrastructure giant Salini Impregilo has signed a "limited notice to proceed" to lead the civil construction consortium hoping to build America’s first high-speed railway, in Texas.
The group, which is building the Grand Renaissance Ethiopian Dam (GERD) in Ethiopia, became associated with the project’s developers, Texas Central, last August through its US subsidiary, Lane, acquired in 2016.
Salini Impregilo said it will perform engineering and design development of the infrastructure for the 240-mile railway between Houston and Dallas, which last month received a $300m loan from Japanese state lenders, and which will use Japanese Shinkansen bullet trains and technology.
"This is a wonderful opportunity for us," said Pietro Salini, CEO of the Salini Impregilo Group.
"We are delighted to be invited to take part to bring high-speed train service to Texas, as we have in Italy and other countries. It is precisely the kind of large, complex infrastructure project in which we have decades of experience. The United States is now our biggest single market, with a consolidated presence in highways, bridges and tunnels, and are pursuing the high-speed rail sector."
Texas Central is promoting the railway as a 200mph train service connecting the state’s largest population and economic regions in 90 minutes, with a midway stop in the Brazos Valley.
"The project will create a super-economy, connecting the 4th and 5th largest US markets in fast-growing communities looking for safe, reliable and productive travel options," it said, adding Salini Impregilo will be responsible for all work up to the top of the rail, including viaducts, embankments and drainage.
"Salini Impregilo’s knowledge and experience in designing, building and leading large scale railway projects on an international scale is impressive," stated Carlos F. Aguilar, CEO of Texas Central.
Texas Central noted that Salini Impregilo has worked on high-speed rail lines between Milan and Turin; Florence and Bologna; and Florence and Rome. It was involved in the Gotthard Base Tunnel, and is working on the Brenner Base Tunnel and the high-speed rail line between Genoa and Milan. The Group has also worked on the expansion of the Panama Canal.
Texas Central Partners has said trains could be running by 2024.
The project is being studied by the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality and the Federal Railroad Administration, with a decision from the latter not expected before the end of August 2019.
Image: Render of the planned high-speed railway between Houston and North Texas, near Dallas (texascentral.com)