Foreign firms, consortiums interested in California rail work

Reuters News
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Posted: Sep 29, 2015 7:05 PM

By Robin Respaut

SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - Thirty-five construction companies, financiers, train manufacturers and operators from around the world have expressed interest in working on California's $68 billion high-speed train.

The California High-Speed Rail Authority (CHSRA) asked for input from interested parties to help shape the state's strategy to build, finance, and run the first stage of an 800-mile (1,287-km) high-speed rail line, considered the most ambitious infrastructure project currently planned in the United States.

Firms hailed from around the globe, including Spain, Germany, France, Italy, Australia, Sweden, China, Japan and the United States.

China and Japan presented separate consortiums, called the Chinese High Speed Rail Delivery Team and the Japan California High Speed Rail Consortium. Engineering firm Beijing National Railway Research & Design Institute of Signal & Communications Group also responded.

Spain was well represented with engineering, construction and infrastructure companies Cintra Infraestructuras, Globalvia Inversiones, Inabensa, Isolux Corsan, Sacyr Concesiones, and TYPSA Group.

The Germans were represented with Siemens Industry and engineering firm DB International. From France, civil engineering firm Bouygues Travaux Publics and transportation infrastructure firm VINCI Concessions responded.

Among the potential financiers, lenders and investors were Barclays Bank, private equity firm Meridiam Infrastructure, investment company Macquarie Capital and Australian investor Plenary Group.

Over the next month, CHSRA plans to hold one-on-one meetings with interested parties. The authority will present the list to its board on Oct. 6.

California officially broke ground earlier this year near the route's midsection in Fresno, a city in the state's Central Valley. California plans to run high-speed trains at speeds of up to 220 miles per hour (354 km per hour) between Los Angeles and San Francisco by 2029 and, later, to expand to San Diego and Sacramento.

Earlier this month, XpressWest, a private company set up by Las Vegas-based hotel and casino developer Marnell Cos, announced a joint venture with a group of Chinese firms to construct a 230-mile high-speed rail line between Las Vegas and Los Angeles.

The deal includes a unit of CRRC Corp, the world's biggest train maker by revenue and the result of a state-driven merger of China's two largest train makers.

Few details about the Sino-American partnership have been released, but initial plans joined the Las Vegas line with the California line in Southern California.

The United States is a key target for China's rail industry, which expressed interest last year in providing trains for California.

The state needs a large amount of funding. About $13.2 billion of the estimated $68 billion has been raised through state and federal funds, plus a pledge of cap-and-trade proceeds, or funds paid by companies to offset carbon emissions.

Based on feedback from interested parties, CHSRA expects to refine its strategy for delivering and procuring the train line. That could include combining large portions of the system into a single contract for bid.

The state has said it is particularly interested in opportunities for cost savings, schedule acceleration, and private sector investment.

(Reporting By Robin Respaut; Editing by Bill Rigby)