TAMPA, FLA. — A group of companies serving the rail transportation industry formed a partnership to compete for high-speed rail opportunities in Florida. The companies in the partnership include VINCI, OHL, Virgin, and Alstom; and non-equity partners Archer Western, AECOM, and PBS&J. Each of the partners has a long history of doing business in the state.
The group’s proposal to design, build, finance, operate, and maintain the system will include a private financing dimension that the group says offers the best solution for Florida once the specific bidding rules are established.
Richard Branson, founder of Virgin, said, “High-speed rail has proven to be a great driver of economic development, urban mobility, and a cleaner environment around the world. Virgin and our partners realize the importance of combining strong private expertise and finance with government investment to maximize the economic development benefits and ensure every dollar is wisely invested.”
Through the partnership, Virgin, VINCI, and OHL will operate the full turnkey system of high-speed trains built and maintained by Alstom. Alstom, VINCI, OHL, and Archer Western will lead the engineering, design, supply (consistent with Buy America) and construction aspects of the project with the support of engineering companies AECOM and PBS&J. Equity partners will include VINCI, OHL, Alstom, and Virgin.
Alstom Transport has 30 years of experience with high-speed rail, having built and maintained the TGV that has been widely used across Europe for decades. Since 1981, Alstom has sold 670 high-speed trains operating in France, Spain, U.K., Korea, Belgium, Switzerland, Germany, and the Netherlands. Alstom says its existing rail manufacturing facility in Hornell, N.Y., is the largest passenger rail manufacturing facility in the United States and has the capacity to manufacture Very High Speed trains as well as intermediate High Speed trains. In 2007 the company broke the world high-speed rail record at 357 miles/hour and its trains have the capacity to routinely travel at 225 mph and above.
OHL is an international construction, concessions, environment, and industrial group. With almost 100 years of experience, the firm is present in 20 countries across four continents, and affiliated companies of the group have had a presence in Florida for 30 years. OHL is one of Florida’s largest DOT contracting firms, and has reached financial close on three projects with the state involving private financing. The group has been active in the high-speed rail sector since the very first Spanish HSR project was opened in 1992. Since then the firm has successfully completed multiple large projects in Spain and across Europe.
VINCI finances, designs, builds, and manages facilities and its subsidiary VINCI Concessions is a private operator of transport infrastructure concessions including motorways, tunnels, bridges, car parks, airports, and rail links.
Virgin is an international investment group founded in 1970 by Sir Richard Branson. Virgin has established successful businesses in sectors ranging from transportation to mobile telephony, financial services, health and wellness, hotels, renewable energy, and most recently space tourism. Virgin has created more than 200 branded companies worldwide. Virgin Trains is Britain’s fastest-growing rail company and most experienced long-distance operator, starting in 1997. It has grown customers numbers from 14 million to 28 million in the last six years. Serving Britain’s key cities, London, Manchester, Liverpool, Birmingham, Glasgow, Virgin Trains employs 3000 people and operates 73 trains running at 125 mph. It was the first train company to introduce high-speed tilting trains in the U.K.