California’s high-speed rail attracts worldwide interest

More than 30 private sector firms are eyeing a stake in the $67.5bn project, the first phase of which is expected to complete in 2029.

The state agency charged with procuring California’s high-speed rail has seen a strong response to the Request for Expressions of Interest (RFEI) it issued last June for an Initial Operating Segment (IOS) of the 800-mile project with a total of 35 firms – including financial institutions, investors and developers – expressing an interest.

The California High-Speed Rail Authority (HSRA) gave private sector firms the option of submitting ideas for either IOS North (San Jose to Bakersfield), IOS South (Merced to Burbank), or both, providing input on cost savings, schedule acceleration, innovation as well as key commercial and financial requirements to achieve these objectives.

“Responses include submissions from world class firms with extensive experience delivering high-speed and other large infrastructure projects,” HSRA said in a statement. Respondents included Acciona Infrastructure, Barclays, Bechtel Infrastructure, John Laing Investments, Macquarie Capital (USA), Meridiam Infrastructure, Plenary Group, Vinci Concessions, as well as consortia from China and Japan.

HSRA staff will hold one-on-one meetings with respondents during the month of October to discuss respondents’ EOIs and to gather additional information. HSRA chief executive Jeff Morales will present the agency’s board of directors a high-level overview of the responses received at the next board meeting scheduled for Tuesday, October 6.

Estimated to cost $67.5 billion, California’s High Speed Rail is an 800-mile project which will ultimately connect Sacramento to San Diego. HSRA is currently focusing on procuring what it calls Phase I of the project, the 520-mile section that runs from San Francisco to Los Angeles-Anaheim.

To date, three sections of the project are being delivered under design-build contracts. Construction Package 1 (CP1), a 29-mile section linking Madera County with Fresno County, was awarded in August 2013. Construction Package 2-3 (CP2-3), that runs approximately 60 miles south of Fresno, was awarded last June, while another 22-mile section further south to Poplar Avenue, is at the Request for Proposals (RFP) stage.

Phase I is slated for completion by 2029.