They’ll need more than this, but it’s a start.
Texas Central Partners, which aims to build a bullet train between Texas’ two biggest cities, announced Wednesday they had raised $75 million in private investments in the company’s first round of fundraising.
That funds are intended to allow the ambitious $10 billion project to move forward from feasibility studies to development planning.
The company also hired a new CEO: Tim Keith, former CEO of RREEF/Deutsche Bank Infrastructure Investments.
“It’s an enormous boost for the project. The first capital to raise is the hardest to raise,” he said in an interview. “It’s a terrific day for me but it’s a historic day for the project and for Houston.”
The funds will help move to the second phase: development planning. Keith said the $75 million will be used to wrap up the environmental study, work with federal authorities to settle on rules for high-speed rail in Texas, grow the company with key hires, expand its consulting base and sponsor more ridership studies.
The $75 million raised is more than the company sought for the first round of investments.
While it allows the project to move forward, the funds are small change compared to the final $10 billion price tag. Keith says the rest will come through big private investment from private equity funds, large pension funds and large real estate and asset investors.
“It’s a big project, it’s a big idea, it has a big cost to build, but it will deliver lots of benefits to the state,” Keith said.
Glad to hear it. There’s still a long way to go and a lot of obstacles to clear, however.
Keith and his company have plenty of obstacles to overcome before the project becomes a reality. State and federal authorities are still evaluating the line. And organized opposition from rural Texans who farm and live in the large expanse between Dallas and Houston that nearly derailed the project during this year’s legislative session has not died down.
Many landowners oppose the fact that Texas Central is allowed to use eminent domain for the project. Company officials say they plan to work with residents and will only use eminent domain as a last resort, when a land deal simply can’t be reached.
But Kyle Workman, president of Texans Against High Speed Rail, said that eminent domain will have to be used in most cases.
“Because nobody wants to sell their land,” he said.
Remember, the opponents are still organizing even with the Lege not in session. TCR is going to need to make all the gains it can before 2017, to make it that much harder to put up obstacles for them. We’ll see how far this takes them.