Work on one of the flyovers between Bakersfield and Merced, in the high-speed corridor of California (USA).
The expected revitalization of the construction of a high-speed rail line in California, valued at 100,000 million dollars (about 93,000 million euros), once again creates maximum expectation among Spanish public works. So much so that Ineco engineering, under the Ministry of Transport, has approved in its board of directors the opening of a permanent headquarters in California in search of opportunities in the short and medium term. The first objective is the development of high speed.
The execution of the 800-kilometer axis between Los Angeles and San Francisco, promoted by the California Authority for High-Speed Rail (CAHSR), was condemned to a dormant state by the Donald Trump Administration, which closed the faucet of federal funds due to cost overruns in the works. The promoter of the project managed to keep it standing and is now running to receive funds from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, which was approved by the Government of Joe Biden in 2021 and puts 108,000 million dollars at stake for public transport systems. This financing channel gives new options to what would be the first high-speed corridor in the United States.
Ineco takes positions as a banner of the Spanish construction sector. Both the public and the rest of the references with experience in the Spanish high-speed network go to California with options given that the rail corridor will be equipped with numerous European standards.
The engineering company headed by Sergio Vázquez is already behind the design of the line between Houston and Dallas, in Texas. And he has previously worked in the Haramain axis of Saudi Arabia; he has taken part in the design of the HS2 in the UK, and is part of the shadow operating consortium of the European Rail Baltica.
In addition to this experience, 3,000 of its 5,000 workers are related to the railway field, and a thousand of them collaborate in high-speed projects (design, communications, signalling, ERTMS systems, line maintenance, etc.). In its role as locomotive, Ineco collaborates with Spanish companies in 34 international contracts.
Until now, CASHR has given priority to the construction of a first phase in the Central Valley, between Bakersfield and Merced, in which the Spanish ACS and Ferrovial are working. This segment, of 275 kilometers and on which almost 190 have been executed, has involved nearly 7,500 million dollars of investment in construction. Progress is also being made in the design of four stations and the remaining 84 kilometers.
The latest CAHSR reports forecast the need for $35 billion for the first phase, and $100 billion for the entire system. Of the 800 kilometers of the layout, the Californian authority has environmental authorizations for 680 kilometers.
In addition to ACS and Ferrovial, other Spanish construction companies directly involved are Acciona and Copasa, which in November of last year saw the 1.6 billion dollar tender for the installation of tracks and systems on the 190 kilometers from Madera to Shafter. Both formed a team and were finalists.
The Spanish offensive follows contacts between the Ministry of Transportation and the US Secretary of Transportation, in which Minister Raquel Sánchez offered collaboration to her counterpart Pete Buttigieg for the development of high speed. The Spanish government is focused on California and on the initiative in Texas, in which Renfe participates in the design phase and has the contract for a future operation of what would be the first private line in the world.
Buttigieg was sworn in in February 2021 and has been a strong supporter of high-speed rail. In addition to returning public support to the Los Angeles-San Francisco line, in the US there is talk of strengthening the long-distance services of the operator Amtrak; of the conclusion of the Chicago-San Luis axis, or of the improvement of the railway accesses from Newark to New York.
The first phase, by 2028
275 initial kilometers. The plan for the high speed of California is to build an electrified line through which the trains can cover the 800 kilometers of journey between San Francisco and Los Angeles in less than three hours. The 275 kilometers in the Central Valley should be ready for test rides in 2028.
Three decades of experience. The Spanish Ineco starts out as a serious candidate for the design of new sections in California after having participated in different phases of development of 12,000 kilometers of high-speed track (4,000 kilometers in Spain and 8,200 abroad). This implies from the technological definition, planning, projects and construction directions, to technical assistance, supply of materials, circulation, commissioning, maintenance and operation during the last 30 years.
Technological news. In addition to the background in the deployment of the ERTMS traffic management system, Ineco offers advances such as artificial intelligence applied to road inspection and maintenance through a device called DIGAV, which is scheduled to be commercialized in the second half of the year. It also has a solution, again based on artificial intelligence, for the layout of linear works, and applies remote inspection technology based on 5G and the use of drones.
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