Company behind bullet train lays off employees, future unknown

COVID-19 has caused the company behind the high-speed rail project between Houston and Dallas to lay people off. 

A statement from Texas Central's CEO confirms that 28 people were laid off. Texas Central has partners worldwide, and the coronavirus' impact in Asia and Europe played a role. 

While the project is not altogether canceled, the future is uncertain.

“This is one of those moments where we have to acknowledge how small our world really is,” said Carlos Aguilar, CEO of Texas Central High-Speed Rail. “Our engineering partner is in Italy, our operations partner is in Spain and our technology provider is in Japan. Our financial partners are in those countries, as well as here in the United States. Understanding the impact of COVID-19, and the challenges those countries and the US are facing is a new fact of life. We are already implementing work from home and other measures to deal with the crisis, but still do not know what other impacts this will have.”

In collaboration with the Federal Government, the State of Texas and a team of experts, Texas Central has advanced all aspects of this historic project and is ready to begin the construction phase once global financial markets stabilize and the federal approvals process is complete.

“Our immediate next step is to continue working with our partner organizations and federal and state agencies, led by the Federal Railroad Administration, to finalize our permits. The current schedule we have from the federal government anticipates that will happen by July 31,” Aguilar continued. “From an execution standpoint, the project is shovel-ready. Once we receive our permit approval, our ability to begin construction will be contingent upon financial entities in the United States, Europe, and Japan, all of which are dealing with urgent priorities generated by COVID-19, completing their due diligence process."

“Like other companies and organizations around the world, we are trying to make the best use of the funding we currently have, paying close attention to COVID-19 updates and putting plans in place to move our project forward as soon as the world is on the other side of this uncharted territory,” Aguilar said.

Texas Central expects to create more than 17,000 jobs during construction and a multi-billion-dollar economic impact across the U.S via contracts for U.S. steel mills and other manufacturers, minority and women-owned businesses, veterans, rural businesses along the alignment.

 Texas Central is the company undertaking the development, design, construction, finance, and operation of the innovative new high-speed passenger train line that will connect the fourth and fifth largest economies in the country, North Texas and Greater Houston, in less than 90 minutes, with one stop in the Brazos Valley.