The California High-Speed Rail Authority Monday released a revised Business Plan, to launch the nation’s first high-speed rail service—capable of traveling 220 miles-per-hour from Merced through Bakersfield and Palmdale to the San Fernando Valley—within ten years.
“Our revised plan makes high-speed rail better, faster and cheaper,” High-Speed Rail Authority Chairman Dan Richard told a news conference today at the Southern Pacific Building in Fresno. “Drawing on hundreds of public comments as well as the expertise of our technical staff, we were able to refine our thinking and improve the plan enormously. The revised plan will enhance local rail service immediately and, in the long term, cut total project costs by $30 billion.”
Under the revised 2012 Business Plan, construction begins this year on the 300-mile Initial Operating Section, that would extend from Merced through Bakersfield and Palmdale to the San Fernando Valley. The new plan also improves the safety and efficiency of existing urban rail systems to ultimately allow the integration of local systems with high-speed rail.
The key changes to the revised business plan include:
- Constructing 300 miles of electrified rail from Merced to San Fernando Valley in ten years;
- Improving existing rail service in the Bay Area and Los Angeles regions to prepare those systems for high-speed rail service;
- Cutting $30 billion in costs, through the blended approach, cost savings and inflation assumptions; and
- The potential to access cap & trade funds as a backstop to federal funding.
“In ten years, Californians will be able to travel through the Central Valley and into the Los Angeles Basin in half the time it takes to drive,” said Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr. “This revised plan is bold, practical and puts California out in front once again.”
Construction of the entire 520-mile rail system will finish in 2028, with service to begin in 2029. Under the new plan, the system will cost $68.4 billion in year-of-expenditure dollars, a $30 billion reduction over the previous plan.
Six billion dollars in funding has already been identified for the first segment of the Initial Operating Section, including $3.3 billion in federal funding and $2.7 billion in voter-approved Proposition 1A bond proceeds. Cap and trade funds are also available as a backstop against federal and local support to complete the initial operating section. No operating subsidy will be required.
“The plan is realistic, credible and transparent,” said Authority Board Member Mike Rossi. “This plan is responsible from a business perspective and is a solid investment for Californians. There is no need for operating subsidies and the system will attract private capital once the operating segment stabilizes ridership in 2022.”
(Information via press release from California High Speed Rail Authority.)