Dallas-Houston line a key milestone for sustainable mobility in United States
Webuild and its U.S. subsidiary Lane Construction have signed the final agreement worth $16 billion with Texas Central LCC to build the first true high-speed railway in the United States between Dallas and Houston. The agreement is the final step ahead of the financial closure - foreseen in the coming months - and the start of construction of the mega project, which will provide fast, safe and environmentally friendly travel, create thousands of jobs and give a major boost to the economy.
The project promises to be a pivotal moment for sustainable mobility in the United States by having it join the ranks of countries that offer high-speed rail service, such as Japan, China, France and Italy.
The contract brings the value of construction orders in Webuild’s backlog from the United States to 35%, confirming the country as the single biggest market for the Group.
The contract is a unique opportunity for Webuild, Lane and their suppliers. Approximately 17,000 direct jobs are to be created, and more than 20,000 indirect ones. An estimated $7.3 billion worth of materials from U.S. suppliers across 37 states are to be used, together with services provided by highly specialized Italian suppliers. Once the trains come into service, more than 1,500 direct jobs are to be created.
The high-speed railway is one of the single biggest infrastructure projects in the United States in terms of value, and it stands to be transformative for Webuild, as well. It completes a process begun in 2014 when Salini increased its scale by merging with Impregilo, followed by Lane and, more recently, Astaldi to create the Webuild Group. With the latest acquisition further increasing the Group’s size under the Progetto Italia initiative in Italy, Webuild has become a strategic builder of mega projects that contribute to an economic and employment recovery following the COVID-19 pandemic.
The final agreement signed with Texas Central consolidates the results of four years of work and analysis by Webuild and Lane, bringing the project to the advanced design stage. It also updates the value of the preliminary agreement. Webuild and Lane will oversee the civil engineering works, which entails the design and construction of the 236 miles (379 kilometres) of railway, the viaducts, as well as the buildings and services for maintenance and other equipment, industrial buildings, train depots and facilities. A major part of the railway will be elevated, benefitting from the Group’s experience in bridges and viaducts to reduce to a minimum the impact that the infrastructure will have on the residents and landowners of the counties through which the railway will pass.
The Dallas-Houston high-speed railway will transform mobility between the two cities. Based on Central Japan Railway’s Tokaido Shinkansen system, the world’s safest mass transportation system, it will carry travellers at speeds of up to 200 miles per hour (320 kilometers per hour), faster than any other rail service in the United States. It will bring them to either destination in less than 90 minutes, with a single stop at Brazos Valley near Texas A&M University. Departures will be every 30 minutes during peak hours.
The service will prove to be a major benefit for at least 100,000 people – known as super commuters – who travel between the two cities by car or air every week. It will help reduce greenhouse gas emissions by an estimated 101,000 tons per year – emissions that would otherwise be produced by car and air travel between the two cities. By 2050, approximately 13 million people are forecast to use the train.
Webuild and Lane bring to the project unparalled experience in building mega projects throughout the world. Their track record stands at more than 13,000 kilometers of rail and metro lines, including the M4 and M5 in Milan, a section of Line 16 of the Grand Paris Express, Cityringen in Copenhagen, the viaduct and cable-stayed bridge of Sydney Metro Northwest, Red Line North Underground in Doha and Line 3 of the Riyadh Metro. In the United States, the Group built the Central Subway tunnel in San Francisco and the LYNX Blue Line Extension in Charlotte.
In Italy, where it has built a number of rail and high-speed rail lines from Rome to Milan and Milan to Turin, Webuild is working on the 18 main infrastructure projects that will improve the future of Italy: the Ionian State Highway, the high-speed/high-capacity railway between Verona and Padua, Metro C in Rome and a metro line in Naples. It is also involved in projects for the Trans-European Transport Network (TEN-T) to improve rail connections across the continent. They include the Brenner Base Tunnel under the Alps between Italy and Austria, which will be the longest railway tunnel in the world at 64 kilometers; the high-speed/high-capacity railway between Naples and Bari; and another between Milan and Genoa that will have the longest railway tunnel in Italy.