We have updated 47 results for California high speed rail cost

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Below are 47 results for california high speed rail cost.

hsr.ca.gov

In 2008, Californians voted to build electrified high-speed rail by approving Proposition 1A, which provided .95 billion for high-speed rail planning and construction; of this, billion was allocated to the Authority and 0 million was allocated to …

kcra.com

But a review of the California High-Speed Rail Authority's Ridership and Revenue Forecast provides an idea of how cost-effective the 200-mph train could be for travelers. A …

nextcity.org

According to a study by the Los Angeles Times, the most current projected fare for the train, a ride, would still be one of the most inexpensive high-speed rail trips on a per …

People also ask
  • How much would high speed rail actually cost?

    The cost per mile of the planned 520-mile California high-speed rail system, assuming it could actually be built for the current estimate of billion, is 4 million per mile. And Amtrak’s own estimates for replacing its existing Northeast Corridor with true high-speed rail work out to over 0 million per mile.
    Average cost per km of high speed rail : transit
  • How much does high speed rail cost in California?

    This often means extensive tunneling and elevated construction. The cost per mile of the planned 520-mile California high-speed rail system, assuming it could actually be built for the current estimate of billion, is 4 million per mile.
    On High-Speed Rail, Look at the Costs and Results Before ...
  • Who is funding California high speed rail?

    California Sens. Dianne Feinstein and Alex Padilla this week urged Democratic leaders in the Legislature to get behind Gov. Gavin Newsom’s request to release .2 billion for the state’s beleaguered high-speed rail project, wading into a dispute over ...
    California lawmakers feud with Biden admin over how high-speed rail …
  • Is high speed rail in California just a dream?

    High-speed rail, along with innovative land use, will breed the kind of economic development and communities California is missing most - urban revitalization along with more walkable, affordable communities.
    California Building HSR
cchsra.org

The revised business plan estimated the cost at .4 billion. (Note that the November 2008 California High-Speed Train Business Plan had estimated a cost of .8 billion to .6 …

bizjournals.com

New cost of California's plan to bring high-speed rail to the state is now 5 billion. It started 14 years ago at billion.

hsr-test.hsr.ca.gov

The Authority has secured approximately one-third of the funds needed to complete the current estimated cost of the system: In 2008, Californians voted to build electrified high-speed rail by …

railjournal.com

THE California High Speed Rail Authority (CHSRA) has issued its Draft 2022 Business Plan covering project progress, which reveals that cost estimates have risen from …

quora.com

Answer (1 of 6): When analyzing high fixed-cost projects like the California High-Speed Rail project, from an economic perspective there are really two major factors to look at closely [1]: * …

sacobserver.com

FILE – A full-scale mock-up of a high-speed train, is displayed at the Capitol in Sacramento, Calif., on Feb. 26, 2015. The California High-Speed Rail Authority’s biennial …

abcnews.go.com

The cost of California's high-speed rail line is going up again

apnews.com

FILE - A full-scale mock-up of a high-speed train, is displayed at the Capitol in Sacramento, Calif., on Feb. 26, 2015. The California High-Speed Rail Authority's biennial …

theepochtimes.com

California High-Speed Rail Boondoggle Cost Soars to 5 Billion In this aerial image looking towards downtown Fresno, the Cedar viaduct stands during construction of a …

cbsnews.com

The projected cost of California's bullet train from San Francisco to Los Angeles has jumped 20 percent to billion and the opening date has been pushed back four years …

vox.com

California, however, decided to take the much more expensive option of planning to build a brand new rail line between the two cities on a different route — adding about …

railwayage.com

The original estimates of the Los Angeles-to-San Francisco high-speed line was billion back in 2008. Today the cost stands at 0 billion, and there appears to be no end …

billion">
billion">https://www.fresnobee.com
billion" data-collect-id="233682923">New CA high-speed rail plan shows cost rising by

billion
fresnobee.com

The 2022 estimates represent a cost increase of between 5.2% and 5.5% compared to projections in the 2020 business plan. That’s an increase of about

.2 billion. …

time.com

The California High Speed Rail Authority had estimated the full line would have cost billion to complete. Backers were counting on the private sector to finance most of …

constructiondive.com

Dive Brief: State transportation officials tacked on an additional billion to the budget for California's high-speed rail project, according to a …

California high-speed rail faces new cost overruns

08-10-2021 · The state's High-Speed Rail Authority faces at least

billion in more cost overruns from its contractors, at a time when its finances are …

08-10-2021

The California bullet train is facing at least another billion dollars of proposed cost increases from its contractors, following a history of sharp cost growth on construction work over the last eight years, The Times has learned.

The state’s High-Speed Rail Authority has mostly approved such increases in the past, and if it does so again, contractors could proceed with one of the biggest price escalations since bullet train construction began in the San Joaquin Valley.

The continued cost increases — and the likelihood of similar problems surfacing over the next few years — are deepening the already difficult financial condition of the 0-billion project.

The state has budgeted .8 billion to build a partial segment from Bakersfield to Merced. Originally, construction of the Los Angeles to San Francisco system was pegged at billion. But the surging costs will probably force the state to dig deeper into its future funding just to complete that 171-mile leg in the valley.

The teams building bridges, viaducts, trenches and overpasses in the valley have submitted dozens of new claims for delays and design changes, asserting they are the authority’s fault, according to several of the project’s technical and business officials and internal documents reviewed by The Times. The officials asked to remain nameless because they were not authorized to talk to the media.

The costs are being driven by changes in designs submitted in the original contracts, delays in moving underground utilities and long-standing problems buying all of the land along the right of way.

Rail authority Chief Executive Brian Kelly declined to discuss the size of the cost increases, but said they are growing due to erroneous past decisions. Kelly, who became CEO in January 2018, said he had fully expected some of the additional construction expenses, because not all of the designs were completed when contracts were previously issued.

In an interview, Kelly said, “I do not endorse their numbers. We do not see the evaluations the same way,” but added that he has been prepared for the potential overruns.

“I have budgeted for those costs. It is not new,” Kelly said, adding that the project is addressing past problems and will avoid repeating them in the future.

In May, Kelly issued a written report that acknowledged there were significant pending change orders, though it did not include the proposed prices. The report indicated that at least some of the proposed change orders were in dispute.

The scope of the new cost increases has not been disclosed in any public documents and the rail authority has declined to provide lawmakers with updates on change orders as they are submitted by contractors. Under rail authority policy, change orders are only disclosed after they are approved.

Assemblywoman Laura Friedman (D-Glendale), chairwoman of the Assembly Transportation Committee, has urged the rail authority to amend its plans as the costs have risen.

“You have to make sure people support this project as the costs continue to rise,” she said in an interview. “It is safe to say this is going to be a very expensive project. What we want is that it has to have utility to a lot of people on the day it opens.”

Friedman said the current plan to build the segment from Bakersfield to Merced will not demonstrate the value of high-speed rail unless it provides services to major urban areas. Speaker Anthony Rendon (D-Lakewood) has sought to transfer some of the funds from the Central Valley to high-speed rail segments in Southern California and the Bay Area.

Friedman led the negotiations for the Legislature on the appropriations. She said the Legislature offered Gov. Gavin Newsom

billion for construction and another

.5 billion for change orders in August. The offer indicates that the Legislature appears braced for growing costs.

But Newsom held out for the full .2 billion, according to officials close to the negotiations. Friedman, backed by a large contingent of Assembly Democrats, wants to withhold some of the .2 billion in funding to retain control over the troubled project.

In the interview, Kelly said he did not want to discuss the details of the negotiations. But he said it was important for the rail authority to have confidence in its revenue sources to plan and execute future construction.

Whether change orders can be controlled is problematic. At its September meeting, the board adopted a new “change order control committee,” which would increase internal scrutiny and improve documentation, though it may not reduce their volume. Kelly said he did not think the committee could have prevented any of the past change orders if it had existed years ago.

The board has limited ability to intervene. Board members are not provided with proposed change orders or their proposed amounts before the staff approves them, according to two former board members.

Efforts to strengthen outside control of the project have also faltered. In 2016, then Gov. Jerry Brown vetoed bipartisan legislation to strengthen oversight.

The bulk of the change orders come from two teams, building rail segments through Madera, Fresno and Kings counties in the heart of the San Joaquin farm belt.

Tutor Perini, which leads a team that is building about 31 miles of rail structures around Fresno, has submitted paperwork seeking about 0 million in additional payments, according to multiple sources familiar with the matter.

So far, the team has received approval of 383 past change orders that largely accounted for its contract growing from

billion to .4 billion. Among Tutor Perini’s demands that the rail authority approved was ,410.40 for 15 months of local and long-distance calls, according to records.

Included in the new filings is a claim for 1 million for delays that the company says were caused by the rail authority’s failure to obtain land for the construction and to complete utility relocations along the right of way. The project still needs 370 more parcels of land and in the most recent month acquired only nine pieces of land. Other claims involve design changes for various east-to-west highway overpasses across the future bullet train tracks.

Dragados, the Spanish construction firm that is leading a team for 65 miles of work around Kings County, has submitted new delay claims and change orders of more than a half-billion dollars, according to officials and documents. It has already received approval of 297 prior change orders that boosted its contract from

.4 billion to .1 billion.

Officials at Dragados and Tutor Perini declined requests for comment.

The pace of construction remains well below the budgeted level across the San Joaquin Valley, as each month the project fails to meet its projected spending rate. In the most recent report, for example, Tutor Perini was scheduled to build million worth of structures in July, but completed only million.

So far in 2021, the Tutor Perini team has averaged construction of .5 million per month and has a remaining contract balance of 5.1 million. At the current rate of progress, the Tutor Perini segment is likely to be completed by mid-2024, according to a Times analysis of rail authority progress reports and the judgment of officials in the project.

Dragados is working even slower, invoicing .25 million per month with a remaining balance of 0.6 million, indicating a completion of its work by mid-2025 or later. Officials close to the project expect work to drag on for both segments until about 2026, years past the current scheduled completion in 2022. The rail authority is in the process of revising the completion dates, the officials said.

The delays should be covered by the state, the firms contend. But Kelly said that the rail authority will dispute at least some of the Dragados demands, including two creek crossings and collision barriers along the future tracks.

Tutor Perini and Dragados have a large volume of additional orders that have not yet been submitted to the authority, which could add hundreds of million of dollars in additional demands, according to officials who described the change orders.

The Legislature has grown more concerned about the project and refused in August to appropriate the .2 billion that Newsom requested in the session that ended in August.

The deadlock in negotiations forced the rail authority in late September to cut the construction budget in the Central Valley by 0 million over the next year. The cutbacks could be reversed if and when the Legislature approves the appropriation.

But at its September board meeting, the authority said the lack of appropriation would cause it to delay work on laying its first track, a high-voltage electrical system and installing a complex signaling system to control trains.

The current plan would start train operations by 2030, but officials working on the project say privately that it appears difficult, if not impossible, to meet that timetable.

Costs for California's high-speed rail project climb ...

09-02-2022 · The California High-Speed Rail Authority’s biennial business plan, released Tuesday, Feb. 8, 2022, shows the estimated cost of the project rising by about billion, compared to the 2020 plan ...

09-02-2022

By KATHLEEN RONAYNE | The Associated Press

SACRAMENTO  — Another billion has been added to the cost of California’s ambitious but long delayed high-speed rail line, according to estimates released Tuesday that show it could take 5 billion to finish the route from San Francisco to Los Angeles.

The figures were included in the California High Speed Rail Authority’s latest biennial business plan. The increases are partly due to commitments aimed at minimizing community disruption, such as distancing the train from the Cesar E. Chavez National Monument in the Central Valley and tunneling tracks near the Burbank airport, project officials said.

The project’s price tag has steadily risen since voters first approved nearly billion in bond money for it in 2008, when the total cost was pegged at billion. In the years since, the costs have kept climbing amid struggles to obtain the necessary land and other delays. Today, the rail authority is far short of the money it needs to complete the full project.

The first part of the line will run through the Central Valley; construction is underway on a 119-mile segment where the trains will first be tested before the track is extended to take passengers from Merced to Bakersfield. No track has yet been laid, but the authority has obtained 90% of the land parcels it needs for the first segment and more than half the full 500-mile (804-kilometer) route is now environmentally cleared, according to the business plan.

Chief Executive Officer Brian Kelly said Tuesday the possibility of a fresh infusion of cash from the federal government puts the project on a stronger path. California should be in a good position to compete for as much as billion in grant money under the federal infrastructure bill Congress passed last year, he said.

During the Obama administration, California won roughly .5 billion for the project, then former Republican President Donald Trump revoked about

billion of that. It’s been returned by the Biden administration.

Receiving billions more in federal dollars would allow the project’s first operational track to be a double track, not a single one, and help the project move forward on design and other work, Kelly said.

“We just think that this is a great opportunity to really move the project forward,” he said.

Republican Assemblyman Jim Patterson of Fresno, a longtime critic of the project whose district it will run through, was unimpressed by the business plan’s hopes for receiving more federal money to build a double track.

“Given the embarrassing failures this project has racked up, I’d be surprised if the feds decide to throw more money at it,” Patterson said in a statement.

As the project waits for more funding from the Biden administration, the rail authority is also fighting for money from the state. Last year, the Legislature did not agree to Gov. Gavin Newsom’s budget request to release .2 billion that’s left in the voter-approved bond fund for the project. Democratic leaders in the state Assembly have been hesitant to release the money due to skepticism about the project’s overall approach and lack of sustained funding.

Last fall, Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon and Assemblywoman Laura Friedman suggested the rail authority delay plans to electrify the first leg of track. Neither responded to requests for comment on Tuesday.

Newsom, a Democrat, proposed releasing the money again in his January budget proposal as part of a transportation package that also includes billions of dollars for local rail and transportation projects.

“Although the administration was disappointed that the transportation package didn’t get done last year, we continue to move forward and are working to achieve funding in this year’s budget,” Newsom spokesman Daniel Lopez said in a statement.

Beyond the bond money and federal dollars, the rail project is funded by revenue from California’s cap-and-trade program, which requires polluters to buy permits to emit carbon.

California’s 0 Billion Nightmare High-Speed Rail ...

After 12 years of delays, mismanagement, and political gridlock, the total cost estimate for the California High-Speed Rail Authority (CHSRA) has reached 0 billion.. Initially budgeted at billion, former California Gov. Jerry Brown’s dream of uniting California’s coastal metropolises and parts of the Central Valley has transformed into a disjointed, mismanaged …

After 12 years of delays, mismanagement, and political gridlock, the total cost estimate for the California High-Speed Rail Authority (CHSRA) has reached 0 billion.  Initially budgeted at billion, former California Gov. Jerry Brown’s dream of uniting California’s coastal metropolises and parts of the Central Valley has transformed into a disjointed, mismanaged fiscal nightmare with rising costs every single year following its inception. The 0 billion cost is 23 percent greater than the highest estimated cost of .4 billion that Citizens Against Government Waste projected in an extensive September 2008 joint report with the Reason Foundation and the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Foundation.

When California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) took office in January 2019, he ignored his initial misgivings to shut down the Bakersfield Merced (MB) portion of the project and decided to move full steam ahead with construction, promising to deliver an operational line by 2029.  The MB line’s original projected cost made up one-fifth of the entire high-speed rail’s total cost.  However, a lack of state oversight coupled with ad hoc financing pushed costs for the MB line well past the initial estimates.  Thus far, the only speed record this train has set is the unprecedented rate at which it has burned through state and federal tax dollars.

Originally pitched as an environmentally friendly alternative form of transportation, the CHSRA line is no different than any other pork-barrel project.  It has been especially good at creating jobs for Central Valley construction workers and private contractors.  As of June 2020, 4,000 construction workers, 73 percent of whom are from the Central Valley, were employed at 32 separate active construction sites operating simultaneously along a 117-mile stretch of the MB line.   

More than .8 billion in construction contracts were awarded to a myriad of Central Valley private contractors.  The California State Auditor’s (CSA) 2018 report detailed that opportunistic contractors employed as consultants on the MB line took full advantage of CHSRA’s lack of planning. The CSA found that “the only documented source of information regarding the timeliness and status of deliverables came from the contractors themselves.”  The lack of a paper trail left the CSA unable to determine “the quantity and quality of the work for which the Authority paid.”  Many contractors also failed to deliver the items they had promised to the CHRSA.  This grifting of the taxpayers’ money is such a widespread practice that CHRSA is either complacent or completely ignorant.

The number of private firms riding the CHSRA gravy train forced Gov. Newsom to take action. In May 2020, Gov. Newsom announced he was going to axe 88 contractors from the CHSRA, which will save an estimated million annually for the remainder of the project.  While commendable, Gov. Newsom’s intervention is too little too late.     

The continuing increase in costs has caused the legislature to pass numerous stop gap bond measures to keep the project alive.  On June 15, 2020, lawmakers sought an additional .2 billion in bond funds for the acquisition of the final land parcels in San Juaquin Valley required to complete the MB line.  If passed, the additional general obligation bond debt will further increase the taxpayers’ burden.  

When the MB line is completed, there is simply no chance that ridership fees alone will be able to cover CHSRA’s operating costs.  When government-funded mass transit projects are unable to sustainably finance themselves, state and local governments are forced to raise taxes to close the fiscal gap.  The Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART)’s budget statements from 2016–2019 offer a glimpse into the future of the CHSRA high-speed rail project and the impact it will have on the taxpayers. 

In 2016, BART’s average weekday ridership (AWR) peaked at 443,000.  Ridership steadily declined each subsequent year, dropping to 404,900 AWRs in 2019.  Despite servicing nearly half a million Bay Area residents every day, BART’s fare recovery rate fell below its operating expenses.  In 2019, operating expenses were 7.8 million, with only 63 percent covered by passenger fares.  The remainder of BART’s operating expenses drew 4.6 million from sales taxes, .8 million from property taxes, and .9 million in financial assistance from state assistance programs.  BART’s reliance on the taxpayers serves as a cautionary tale for the MB line along with the rest of the high-speed rail project.

When the CHSRA inevitably fails to recover its operating expenses, taxpayers will be called upon to finance the difference.  Higher sales and property taxes are already in the forecast shortly after the rail line begins operating.  Until then, state bonds and federal grants will continue stoking this pork project’s fiscal firebox with the taxpayer’s money.

-- Trevor Lewis

sacramento.cbslocal.com

The cost to build California's ambitious but long delayed high-speed rail line has once again risen, with rail officials now estimating it …

latimes.com

In its latest blueprint, the California High Speed Rail Authority abandoned a plan to save money by building only a single track for an initial 171-mile operating system between Bakersfield and ...

California High Speed Rail

You can also find real-time traffic information from across the state, including traffic congestion, lane closures, and chain controls. ... The California High-Speed Rail Authority makes every effort to ensure the website and its contents meet mandated ADA requirements as per the California State mandated Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 2 ...

Get up to speed at BuildHSR.com All the latest information on what’s happening and where as we build California’s high-speed rail Build HSR California
Card image cap
Use QuickMap to find information on how high-speed rail construction is impacting road travel in your area. You can also find real-time traffic information from across the state, including traffic congestion, lane closures, and chain controls.

The California High-Speed Rail Authority makes every effort to ensure the website and its contents meet mandated ADA requirements as per the California State mandated Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 2.0 Level AA standard. If you are looking for a particular document not located on the California High-Speed Rail Authority website, you may make a request for the document under the Public Records Act through the Public Records Act page. If you have any questions about the website or its contents, please contact the Authority at [email protected]

California delays the completion date of high-speed rail ...

24-02-2021 · Recently, the California state capital announced that the planned completion date of high-speed rail construction has been postponed again by one year, from 2022 to 2023. Authorities said that to complete the 119-mile track in the Central Valley region, the construction cost is expected to increase to .8 billion. According to the chief executive officer […]

24-02-2021

The reparations task force created a year ago in California by Gov. Gavin Newsom voted Tuesday to compensate only descendants of blacks enslaved in 19th

In a historically dry year, California Governor Gavin Newsom, on Monday, March 28, ordered the state’s water regulatory agency to make it illegal to irrigate

California authorities announced that nine members of an organized crime ring are charged with stealing hundreds of thousands of dollars in merchandise from California retail

A Republican from California wants to stop thieves from targeting vehicle exhaust systems. State Sen. Brian Jones is cracking down on catalytic converter theft across

California authorities might crackdown on some cities and agribusinesses that take water from the Golden State’s river system. The State Water Resources Control Board recently

Students no longer have to cover their noses and mouth across the Golden State. The California State Legislature removed a school mask mandate on March

Proposed bipartisan legislation will penalize major technology companies for turning minors into compulsive online networkers. California state assemblyman Rep. Jordan Cunningham (R-35 Calif.) and assemblywoman

Millions of genetically modified mosquitoes are slated for release in Florida and California with the goal of eradicating disease-carrying mosquitoes. The news has sparked concern

America’s West Coast recorded the severest dry spell in more than a millennium, raising concern among growers. Del Bosque Farms is reviewing its operations after

America’s West Coast recorded the severest dry spell in more than a millennium, a new study found. The 21st Century has brought California’s worst drought

Billion">

Billion">https://www.cbsnews.com

Billion" data-collect-id="224125119">California High-Speed Rail Cost Rises By Another

Billion
cbsnews.com

SACRAMENTO (AP) — The California High-Speed Rail Authority on Wednesday bumped its overall cost estimate for completing the rail line between San Francisco and Los Angeles to .3 billion, blaming...

usnews.com

The California High-Speed Rail Authority's biennial business plan, released Tuesday, Feb. 8, 2022, shows the estimated cost of the project rising by about billion, compared to the 2020 plan, up ...

thehill.com

A full-scale mock-up of a high-speed train, is displayed at the Capitol in Sacramento, Calif., on Feb. 26, 2015. The California High-Speed Rail Authority’s biennial business plan, released ...

kqed.org

California’s high-speed rail system is someday (or so we’re told) supposed to whisk passengers between Los Angeles and San Francisco in under three hours, traversing the state at speeds of over 200 miles per hour. In 2008, California voters approved nearly billion in bonds to begin ...

On High-Speed Rail, Look at the Costs and Results Before ...

04-12-2020 · But California eagerly accepted .9 billion for its planned 520-mile California high-speed rail system that was supposed to link Los Angeles and San Diego in the south with San Francisco and Sacramento in the north, at an originally estimated cost of billion. The results of all these grants are disappointing, as documented in a detailed ...

04-12-2020

During his campaign, President-elect Joe Biden talked about a “rail revolution” that would include large increases in funding for Amtrak and potentially coast-to-coast high-speed rail (HSR) service. A member of his transition team talked about expanded and faster Amtrak routes displacing short-haul airline service. Especially if the Senate changes hands after the George runoff election, a major infrastructure bill and/or stimulus bill next year might well include large-scale federal grants for such projects.

If this has a familiar ring, it’s because one of the first legislative accomplishments of the Obama administration was a High-Speed Intercity Passenger Rail (HSIPR), enacted as part of a major economic stimulus agenda in 2009. HSIPR offered multi-billion-dollar grants for true high-speed rail projects in California, Florida, Ohio, and Wisconsin plus a wide array of smaller grants to upgrade medium-length Amtrak corridors.

Republican governors in three states rejected the high-speed rail grants because they said they feared they could potentially leave their state budgets to cope with construction cost overruns and ongoing operating subsidies for the rail lines. Those funds were reprogrammed for Amtrak upgrades. But California eagerly accepted .9 billion for its planned 520-mile California high-speed rail system that was supposed to link Los Angeles and San Diego in the south with San Francisco and Sacramento in the north, at an originally estimated cost of billion.

The results of all these grants are disappointing, as documented in a detailed Reason Foundation assessment by demographer and transportation analyst Wendell Cox. Here is the essence of the report’s findings:

  • California HSR: the cost for a scaled-back (Los Angeles to San Francisco) system has tripled to -80 billion, and the available funds are being spent solely on a 119-mile initial segment from Bakersfield to Merced in the middle of the state. There is no current plan or funding to build the rest of the planned 520-mile system.
  • Amtrak Northeast Corridor: The

    .75 billion grant has made some marginal improvements, enabling a top-speed increase on a small segment from 150 mph to 160 mph. Some of the work is still uncompleted.
  • Five other intercity Amtrak corridors: some of the planned additional trains have not been added, and only two corridors have seen top-speed increases to 110 mph, with the others still running at 79 mph. These modest gains cost .4 billion.

That is very little real-world improvement for a total expenditure of .1 billion. Cox’s report goes into some of the reasons why.

First, true high-speed rail  —of the kind we see in Europe, Japan, and China — is hugely expensive. It requires an all-new HSR-only right of way, with much gentler curves and complete separation from any highway grade crossings. This often means extensive tunneling and elevated construction.

The cost per mile of the planned 520-mile California high-speed rail system, assuming it could actually be built for the current estimate of billion, is 4 million per mile. And Amtrak’s own estimates for replacing its existing Northeast Corridor with true high-speed rail work out to over 0 million per mile.

Second, nearly all overseas high-speed rail lines that have achieved high ridership attracted it mostly from previous rail passengers who upgraded from conventional passenger rail. Except for Amtrak’s Northeast Corridor, we have no such large-volume passenger rail between U.S. cities. In all its other intercity corridors, Amtrak at most handles a few percent of all intercity passenger trips, with nearly all going by car, bus, or plane. So upgrading existing Amtrak lines from 79 miles per hour top speeds to 110 mph—even if it attracted a few more passengers—would have very little effect on actual travel in those corridors

One of the key themes of the Biden administration may be trying to reduce CO2 emissions and, during the campaign, passenger rail was presented as if it can make a significant contribution to that goal. What is left out of this vision is that, except for the Northeast Corridor, all Amtrak trains are, and will continue to be, powered by diesel locomotives. That is hardly a green alternative. In fact, a decade ago, the Union of Concerned Scientists compared the CO2 emissions of intercity trips by individuals or families using bus, train, car, SUV, and plane. For a family of four, Amtrak turned out to have the highest CO2 emissions per trip, while the intercity bus had the lowest. For a lone individual, riding the bus still beat the train, but the train was better than the car, SUV, or plane.

These findings suggest that policymakers should take a very hard look at any proposal that resembles the 2009 High-Speed Intercity Passenger Rail program. That program spent many billions of taxpayer dollars with little real value as a result.

As philosopher George Santayana is remembered for writing, “Those who cannot remember the past are doomed to repeat it.”

slate.com

A Shinkansen 700 series train car—the kind that whips passengers around Japan at 200 mph—is 12 feet and 1 inch high. The new bridges over the new California high-speed rail tracks are so high ...

nytimes.com

California’s high-speed rail will “get some federal funding now that there’s a Democratic administration in place and the infrastructure bill is done,” said Jeff Davis, a …

hoover.org

Last month, California governor Gavin Newsom announced that California’s ill-fated high-speed rail project would be scaled back enormously due to cost overruns and delays. The original project, which had an initial cost estimate of billion, would have provided high-speed train service (speeds on some segments in excess of 200 miles per hour) beginning in …

en.wikipedia.org

California High-Speed Rail (CAHSR or CHSR) is a publicly funded high-speed rail system under construction in the U.S. state of California.Its goal is to connect the Anaheim Regional Transportation Intermodal Center in Anaheim and Union Station in Downtown Los Angeles with the Salesforce Transit Center in San Francisco via the Central Valley, providing a one-seat ride …

California High-Speed Rail (CAHSR or CHSR) is a publicly funded high-speed rail system under construction in the U.S. state of California. Its goal is to connect the Anaheim Regional Transportation Intermodal Center in Anaheim and Union Station in Downtown Los Angeles with the Salesforce Transit Center in San Francisco via the Central Valley, providing a one-seat ride between Union Station and San Francisco in 2 hours and 40 minutes, a distance of 380 miles (610 km). Future extensions (in Phase 2) are planned to connect southward to stations in San Diego County via the Inland Empire, as well as northward to Sacramento. It will be implemented in a number of self-supporting segments, as resources become available.

CAHSR plans to eventually operate on dedicated, grade-separated tracks for the entirety of its route between San Jose and Burbank with maximum speeds of up to 220 miles per hour (355 km/h). The San Francisco–San Jose and Los Angeles–Anaheim sections will be shared with local trains in a "blended system." The project is owned and managed by the state of California through the California High-Speed Rail Authority (CHSRA). The Bakersfield to Los Angeles segment would be the first instance of a direct passenger train route between the cities since the termination of the Southern Pacific Railroad's San Joaquin Daylight in 1971.

The CAHSRA was established by an act of the California State Legislature and tasked with presenting a high-speed rail plan to the voters. This plan, Proposition 1A, was approved by voters in 2008 after the presentation and was assigned a  billion bond to begin construction on the initial leg of the network.

The project has been widely described as troubled,[6][7][8][9] being far behind schedule and suffering from management turmoil, problems with procuring land, and engineering issues. In addition, the cost of the project has risen from an estimate of billion in 2008 to billion by 2020.[7] According to a poll in June 2021, 42 percent of California voters supported halting the project, while 41 percent supported continuing it.[10]

Current status and plans[edit]

Status of the project (as of April 2021)

The California High Speed Rail Authority is continually reevaluating how to bring the project authorized by voters into existence, and revising its plans accordingly. Every two years they must present a business plan to the legislature. Highlights of the Revised 2020 Business Plan include:

Currently 119 miles of right-of-way are under construction in the Central Valley, but an additional 52 miles are necessary at the ends to extend the system to Merced and Bakersfield to make an effective HSR system segment. Due to current financial (and other) constraints, the Authority will focus on five actions:

  1. Adding the additional 52 miles to the right-of-way (33 miles north to Merced, and 17 miles south to Bakersfield) and launching a 171 mile HSR operable segment between Merced and Bakersfield (linking three high growth areas in the Central Valley). The environmental approvals are completed for both extensions, and work on route acquisition and construction will be performed as funding is available. The Merced station (at the north end) will provide a transfer point to the Altamont Corridor Express (ACE) and San Joaquins (Amtrak) rail routes to Sacramento and the Bay Area (San Francisco and Oakland), and the Bakersfield station (at the south end) will have a transfer to Thruway Bus Service for travel to Southern California.
  2. In 2021, the contract for the Track and System construction will be let for the 119 mile segment, and construction will begin in 2022. Recently it was found that power availability along the route is inadequate in places, so that will also need to be remedied. When the initial 119 miles of right-of-way are completed, and a single track and necessary signaling and power are installed, there will be a two-year period of testing HSR trainsets, trackage, and control systems while the construction proceeds on the north and south extensions.
  3. Also, by the end of 2023, all the route selection, preliminary planning, and environmental approvals necessary will be completed for the entire 500 mile Phase 1 system. Thus, it will be ready to be constructed when funding becomes available. As of December 2021, roughly 300 miles have been approved. In particular, the route from Merced to Palmdale has been approved. The Los Angeles to Burbank segment has been finalized and will be discussed for approval in January 2022. Further segments expected to be approved in 2022 are: San Francisco to San Jose, San Jose to Merced, and Palmdale to Burbank. The Los Angeles to Anaheim section is expected to be approved in 2023.[11]
  4. Other “bookend” investments to advance HSR projects will continue: (a) electrification of Caltrain and grade separations (plus other related improvements) in the 51 miles between San Francisco and San Jose in Northern California, and (b) in Southern California projects to upgrade and ready LA’s Union Station and other improvements. These investments will provide immediate benefits in more efficient, more environmentally beneficial, and safer operation of higher speed trains in the San Francisco and Los Angeles metropolitan areas. These modifications will also make those transit systems ready for the inclusion of HSR trainsets when linked in the Phase 1 system, since the HSR trainsets will be sharing trackage and have integrated schedules with local transit.
  5. When ready, the initially operational HSR system (171 miles long) will be opened to public use under a contracted Early Train Operator. The system would then be composed of four stations (Merced, Fresno, Kings/Tulare, and Bakersfield), use four trainsets on a single track (with passing tracks), and operate at a speed of 180 mph. Double tracking, additional trainsets, and the Madera station will be added as resources and needs permit. An earlier projection indicated that this system could be operational by 2029, but no commitment was made in the Revised 2020 Business Plan. More recently, on its website the Authority says (as of November 2021) it plans to "Commence testing of the electrified high-speed system in 2025, certify trains by 2027, and put electrified high-speed trains in service by the end of the decade."[12]

A major addition to the development and operation plan is a new emphasis on risk analysis and risk mitigation, with these integrated into the formal authorization process. Also, contingency reserves are being increased. Current revenue and expense projections indicate that getting the 171 mile segment operable is feasible.

After the effort of building the current 171 mile segment, the next priority is to complete the next extension (going further west and north) to connect to Gilroy and San Jose (the southern terminus of the Caltrain system). This will allow HSR trainsets to run from San Francisco to Bakersfield.

The complete 500 mile Phase 1 system between San Francisco and Anaheim in earlier plans was to be completed in 2033, however, this has been slowed by unanticipated issues. The Phase 2 extensions to Sacramento and San Diego are still in the preliminary planning stages.

These plans are discussed in detail in the Revised 2020 Business Plan [1]. The impact of COVID-19 on the work in progress in 2020 was discussed in detail. Also, the independent Peer Review Group Letter analyzing the plan was included in Appendices E & F. The next required update of the Business Plan will be in 2022.

The project will require legislative action in the next couple years, so the issues raised by the Peer Review Group and the project consultant (KPMG) will help the legislature select from the Board's proposed plans or other alternatives. The legislative decisions will profoundly affect the course of the project.

Construction progress[edit]

The start of construction in Phase 1 is divided into four Constructional Packages (CP):

CP1 includes 32 miles (51,5 km) from Avenue 17 north of Madera to East American Avenue south of Fresno. The contract was signed in August 2013 with groundbreaking on 6 January 2015 in Fresno. Construction is well underway with a majority of the individual projects either complete or under construction. Construction is expected to continue into 2023.[13]

CP2-3 includes 60 miles (96,5 km) from East American Avenue south of Fresno to 1 mile (1,6 km) north of the Tulare / Kern County border. The contract was signed in June 2015 with the joint venture of Dragados USA/Flatiron Construction. Groundbreaking took place in August 2018. Construction of CP2-3 is expected to continue into 2023.[13]

CP4 includes 22 miles (35,4 km) adjoining the end of CP2-3 to the intersection of Poplar / Madera Avenue northwest of Shafter. The contract was signed the 29th of February in 2016. Construction is expected to be completed around July 2022.[13] Track and systems work is planned to begin along the CP4 segment once construction of the CP4 package is complete.

Route and stations[edit]

Ambox current red Americas.svg

This section needs to be updated. Please help update this article to reflect recent events or newly available information. (March 2018)

On August 13, 2008, California Assembly Bill 3034 (AB 3034) was approved by the state legislature and signed by Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger on August 26, 2008.[14] The bill was submitted to California voters in the November 2008 election as Proposition 1A and approved.[15] With the voter's mandate, AB 3034 specified certain route and travel time requirements. Among these were that the route must link downtown San Francisco with Los Angeles and Anaheim and must link the state's major population centers together, "including Sacramento, the San Francisco Bay Area, the Central Valley, [the] Los Angeles Basin, the Inland Empire, Orange County, and San Diego." The first phase of the project must link San Francisco with Los Angeles and Anaheim. Up to 24 stations were authorized for the completed system.[16]

This system was scheduled be built in two phases. Phase 1 was to be approximately 520 miles (840 km) long, with completion expected in 2029. Phase 1 would connect the downtowns of San Francisco, Los Angeles, and Anaheim using high-speed rail through the Central Valley.[17] In Phase 2, the route was planned to be extended north from the Central Valley to Sacramento and east from Los Angeles through the Inland Empire and then south to San Diego. Upon completion the total system length would have been approximately 800 miles (1,300 km).

On February 18, 2016, the Rail Authority released its 2016 Draft Business Plan,[18] which significantly altered its near-term plans for the system implementation. While construction was always intended to begin in the Central Valley, the Initial Operating Section (IOS) has always had two options: extend from the Central Valley northward toward the Bay Area (the IOS-North, San Jose to Bakersfield), or southward to Southern California (IOS-South, Merced to San Fernando Valley). In the 2012 and 2014 Business Plans the goal was to implement the IOS-South, but a 2016 analysis of the funding available and time necessary to bring an IOS online the rail authority proposes the IOS-North be implemented instead. The proposal, named the Silicon Valley to Central Valley Line, is expected that sufficient funding will be available to bring this segment online by 2025.[19] The rail authority state its commitment to pursue additional funding to complete the Phase 1 system by 2029.[19]

The updated business plan also reduced the cost of the system from US.6 billion to US.2 billion for Phase 1; this included a savings of US.5 billion based on actual experience, improved plans, and other feedback, but also an additional US.1 billion cost for improvements to the Los Angeles to Anaheim corridor.[20] The 2016 Business Plan estimated the cost to completion of the Silicon Valley to Central Valley line was US.6 billion.[21] The public had 60 days, from February 19, 2016, to submit comments on the Draft 2016 Business Plan to the rail authority. The plan was adopted by the rail authority in April 2016, and submitted by legal requirement to the California State Legislature on May 1, 2016.[19]

The Initial Construction Segment (ICS) of high-speed tracks runs from Merced to Bakersfield in the Central Valley. Simultaneously with the ICS construction, there are "bookend" and connectivity investments[22] including electrification of the San Francisco Peninsula Corridor used by Caltrain, improvements to tracks and signaling for both Metrolink in the LA area and Caltrain, and better passenger interconnections for Caltrain, Amtrak, and other Northern California rail lines.

All stations in this table represent proposed service. Station names in italics are optional stations that may not be constructed. In most cases existing stations will be re-purposed for high-speed rail service, with the exception of completely new stations at Merced, Fresno, Kings–Tulare, and Bakersfield.

Station Location Status Completion[23] Connecting rail services Connecting bus services Notes
Salesforce Transit Center San Francisco Existing, train station and connecting tunnel unfunded postponed Caltrain
(BART, E Embarcadero, F Market & Wharves, Muni Metro via pedestrian tunnel)
AC Transit, Amtrak Thruway Motorcoach, Blue & Gold Fleet, Golden Gate Ferry, Golden Gate Transit, Greyhound, Paratransit Service, Red & White Fleet, San Francisco Bay Ferry, Muni, Chariot Transit, SamTrans, WestCAT Lynx
San Francisco–4th and King Street Existing, modifications needed 2031 Caltrain, Muni Metro, E Embarcadero Muni, Flixbus [23]
Millbrae Intermodal Terminal Millbrae BART, Caltrain
(AirTrain (SFO) via BART)
SamTrans
Diridon Station San Jose ACE, BART, Caltrain, Capitol Corridor, Coast Starlight, VTA Light Rail Amtrak Thruway Motorcoach, California Shuttle Bus, DASH, Highway 17 Express, Monterey-Salinas Transit, RTD, VTA
Gilroy Gilroy Planning agreement in place Caltrain Monterey-Salinas Transit, San Benito County Express, VTA
Merced Merced 2029 (CVS) ACE, San Joaquin (train) YARTS
Madera near Madera Community College Center San Joaquin (train) [24][25]
Fresno Fresno YARTS, Fresno Area Express
Kings–Tulare Regional Station near Hanford Cross Valley Corridor (planned)
Bakersfield Bakersfield Planning agreement in place San Joaquin (train) Kern Transit
Palmdale Transportation Center Palmdale 2033 Metrolink, Brightline West (planned) Amtrak Thruway Motorcoach, AVTA, Santa Clarita Transit, Greyhound Lines LA County Beach Bus (summer only)
Burbank Airport Station Burbank Coast Starlight, Metrolink, Pacific Surfliner Metro Burbank
Los Angeles (Union Station) Los Angeles Existing, modifications needed Coast Starlight, Metro, Metrolink, Pacific Surfliner, Southwest Chief, Sunset Limited, Texas Eagle Antelope Valley Transit Authority, Big Blue Bus, Citadel Outlets Express, DASH, Dodger Stadium Express,[26]FlyAway, Foothill Transit, Greyhound, Metro, Metro Bus Rapid Transit, OC Bus, Santa Clarita Transit, Torrance Transit Union Station
Norwalk–Santa Fe Springs Norwalk Optional, no decision made Metrolink, Metro (planned) Metro
Fullerton Fullerton Metrolink, Pacific Surfliner OC Bus
Anaheim (ARTIC Station) Anaheim Existing, modifications needed postponed Greyhound, Metro, OC Bus, ART Images

Note: The California High-Speed Rail Authority considered a mid-peninsula station in Redwood City, Mountain View, or Palo Alto, but it was removed from the business plan in May 2016 due to low ridership projections, although the possibility was raised of adding one in the future.[27]

Communities impacted[edit]

During Phase 1, the project displaced or adversely impacted Mexican, Cambodian and Japanese immigrants, homeless outreach organizations, homeless shelters, firefighters, nonprofits working with welfare recipients, thrift stores, and disadvantaged communities such as Wasco.[28][29]

Phase 2[edit]

In 2015, the following stations and options were proposed. Existing train stations, if any, are linked. There is often a choice of alignments, some of which may involve the construction of a new station at a different location.

Sacramento extension

The segment from Merced to Sacramento will be built on dedicated high-speed rail tracks and go to:

  • Modesto
  • Stockton
  • Sacramento Valley Station
San Diego extension

The southernmost segment from Los Angeles to San Diego will be built on dedicated high-speed rail tracks with several routing and stations options. Key stations are identified as:[30]

Trains may additionally call at:

Proposals for services through a future second Transbay Tube,[31] a San Jose–Oakland line, and a Stockton–Union City line have been studied but are not in the Phase 2 plan adopted by voters statewide.[32]

History[edit]

Legislative[edit]

In 1996, the California High-Speed Rail Authority (CHSRA) was established to begin formal planning in preparation for a ballot measure in 1998 or 2000.[33][34] The CHSRA, a state agency run by a board of governors, is required by law to operate without a subsidy, and to connect the state's major cities in the Bay Area, Central Valley, and Los Angeles Basin. Phase 2 (which has no timetable yet) would extend the system northward through the Central Valley to the Sacramento Valley Station in Sacramento and southward through the Inland Empire to the San Diego International Airport in San Diego.

In 2008, California voters approved the issuance of  billion in bonds for high speed rail in Proposition 1A,[35] a measure to construct the initial segment of the network.

On January 28, 2010, the White House announced that California would receive .25 billion for California High Speed Rail.[36] Over the course of 2010 and 2011, the federal government awarded the Authority a further  billion in high-speed rail funding.[37][38][39]

In June 2014, state legislators and Governor Jerry Brown agreed to apportion the state's annual cap and trade funds so that 25% goes to high speed rail.[40] The state's Legislative Analyst's Office estimated that cap-and-trade income in 2015 and 2016 could total .7 billion, of which 5 million would be allocated to HSR.[41] The LAO's predictions were proven incorrect in its own revised report dated May 26, 2016, "State auction revenue will be about

.8 billion in 2015–16" due to a weak May 2016 auction.[42]

On September 30, 2015, the Authority posted the names of 30 large firms who were interested in financing, constructing, and operating the California HSR system.[43]

Proposition 1A and other legislation set certain performance standards for the project:[44]

  • Minimum 200 miles per hour (320 km/h) where conditions permit
  • Maximum travel time between SF and LA not to exceed 2 hr 40 min
  • Financially self-sustaining (operation and maintenance costs fully covered by revenue)

In February 2019, parts of the project not already under construction were postponed for a number of reasons.

Legal[edit]

In 2014, the CHSRA was challenged on its compliance with its statutory obligations under Proposition 1A (John Tos, Aaron Fukuda, and the Kings County Board of Supervisors v. California High-Speed Rail Authority). The case was split into two parts. The ruling in the first was that the requirements for the financing plan, environmental clearances, and construction plans did not need to be secured for the entire project before construction began, but only for each construction segment. The second part considered three Proposition 1A legal requirements: (1) Can the train travel from Los Angeles (Union Station) to San Francisco (Transbay Terminal) in two hours and 40 minutes? (2) Will the train require an operational subsidy? (3) Does the new "blended system" approach meet the definition of high-speed rail in Proposition 1A? Judge Kenny ruled on March 8, 2016, that although serious issues were raised, they are not "ripe for review" and that (because this is "an ongoing, dynamic, changing project") he noted "the authority may be able to accomplish these objectives at some point in the future." This did not preclude the possibility of future legal action against the Authority on these issues.[45]

On December 15, 2014, the federal Surface Transportation Board determined (using well-understood preemption rules) that its approval of the HSR project in August "categorically preexempts" lawsuits filed under the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA). This determination is still being tested in the California courts in a similar case, Friends of Eel River v. North Coast Railroad Authority.[46][needs update]

The case John Tos, et al. v. California High-Speed Rail Authority objected to funding plans approved by the Authority's Board of Directors for the San Francisco to San José corridor electrification project and the Central Valley construction segment. It alleges the actions were unconstitutional, relying on AB 1889 (dated 2016), which was an unconstitutional law because it was not approved by the voters, per Proposition 1A. In November 2018, the Superior Court ruled in the Authority’s favor. More recently, an appeal was filed May 2019 in the Third District Court of Appeal. As of the 2020 Revised Business Plan, a decision is still pending.

Construction[edit]

On December 2, 2010, the Authority Board of Directors voted to begin construction on the first section of the system from Madera to Fresno.

In July 2012, the California legislature and Gov. Jerry Brown approved construction of the high-speed system.[47][48]

Fresno hosted a groundbreaking ceremony on January 6, 2015, to mark the commencement of sustained construction activities.[49]

Per the 2020 Business Plan, by the end of 2021, construction will be completed or underway on 83 of 93 structures, and on 106 miles of guideway of the 119 miles of the initial system. For the Bakersfield and Merced extensions (52 additional miles), advanced design work, right-of-way mapping, and identification of utility relocation work is underway.

Speed requirements[edit]

According to Proposition 1A, the train must be electric and capable of a sustained operating speed of no less than 200 miles per hour (320 km/h).[50] There are also a number of travel time benchmarks. The important benchmarks applicable to Phase 1 of the project are: (1) a maximum nonstop travel time between San Francisco and San Jose of 30 minutes, and (2) a maximum nonstop travel time between San Jose and Los Angeles of 2 hours and 10 minutes. (Thus, a nonstop time from San Francisco to Los Angeles in 2 hours and 40 minutes.) In addition, the achievable operating headway between successive trains must be less than 5 minutes.[50]

Maximum nonstop travel times for each corridor must not exceed the following times, according to Proposition 1A:[50]

  1. San Francisco–Los Angeles Union Station: 2 hours, 40 minutes
  2. Oakland–Los Angeles Union Station: 2 hours, 40 minutes
  3. San Francisco–San Jose: 30 minutes
  4. San Jose–Los Angeles: 2 hours, 10 minutes
  5. San Diego–Los Angeles: 1 hour, 20 minutes
  6. Inland Empire–Los Angeles: 30 minutes
  7. Sacramento–Los Angeles: 2 hours, 20 minutes

There have been some comments by critics (such as the Due Diligence Report (2008)) that the proposed system will not meet the Proposition 1A requirement of downtown San Francisco to Los Angeles travel time of 2 hours and 40 minutes.

The Authority's plan is close to the requirement, but does push the limits of conventional HSR speed.

  • San Francisco to San Jose nonstop over the blended-system trackage at 102 miles per hour (164 km/h) for (51 miles (82 km)) = 30 min. (note 30 min. is the maximum allowed).
  • San Jose to Los Angeles nonstop at 220 miles per hour (350 km/h) for (417 miles (671 km) or 437 miles (703 km)) = 1 hr. 54 min. or 1 hr. 59 min. (note 2 hr. 10 min. is the maximum allowed). Even at a slower 200 miles per hour (320 km/h) the times would be 2 hrs. 5 min. or 2 hrs. 11 min. (Note: since the final SF–LA route has not been adopted, the route length will be between the two numbers given.)

Both the Due Diligence Report (2008) and Updated Due Diligence Report (2013) state that no existing high-speed system currently meets the proposed operation speed and safety goals. It notes that the highest cruising HSR speed in the world on production runs is about 200 miles per hour (320 km/h) in France, and this is significantly less than the sustained speed of 220 miles per hour (350 km/h) the CHSRA plan requires. They also note safety concerns in running at top speed through highly populated urban areas such as Fresno.[51] For three years, Chinese HSR trains ran at 217 miles per hour (349 km/h), but the speeds were reduced due to safety concerns and costs.[52] In fact a Siemens Velaro trainset without any modifications has posted a speed record well in excess of 400 kilometres per hour (250 mph), though economic considerations keep them limited to 320 kilometres per hour (200 mph) in revenue service. The French Alstom TGV Duplex is also able to sustain speeds of 360 km/h, as have shown several days of testing in 2008,[53] not to mention all new TGV speed lines designed for 320 km/h are tested at the speed of 352 km/h (commercial speed 10%) by TGVs.[54][55]

The current trainset specification requires the capability of sustained speeds of 220 miles per hour (350 km/h).[50] So, ultimately it is up to the trainset manufacturers to meet the Authority's speed requirement, since the proposed route and speed do meet the Proposition 1A requirements.

Rolling stock[edit]

Artist's rendering of a TGV-Type California High-Speed Rail trainset with livery; this type of train is used in all CHSRA materials, but since the exact model of trainset to be acquired is not known, this is only illustrative.

Acquisition[edit]

In January 2015, the California High Speed Rail Authority issued a request for proposal (RFP) for complete trainsets. The proposals received will be reviewed so that acceptable bidders can be selected, and then requests for bids will be sent out.

Per the 2020 Business Plan, in the limited initial operational system (171 miles, from Merced to Bakersfield) only four trainsets will be required.

It is estimated that for the entire Phase 1 system up to 95 trainsets might be required.[56] Initially only 16 trainsets are anticipated to be purchased.[57] Trainset expenses, according to the 2014 Business Plan, are planned at 9 million for the IOS (Initial Operating Segment) in 2022, 4 million for the Bay to Basin in 2027, and

.4 billion for the completed Phase 1 in 2029, for a total of .276 billion.[58]

In February 2015, ten companies formally expressed interest in producing trainsets for the system: Alstom, AnsaldoBreda (now Hitachi Rail Italy), Bombardier Transportation, CSR, Hyundai Rotem, Kawasaki Rail Car, Siemens, Sun Group U.S.A. partnered with CNR Tangshan, and Talgo. CSR merged with CNR in June 2015, bringing the number of companies down to eight.[59] Bombardier Transportation completed its merge with Alstom by January 2021, bringing the number of companies down to 7.[60]

Specifications[edit]

In addition to many other requirements:[61]

  • each trainset will have a sustained continuous speed of 220 mph (350 km/h);
  • a maximum testing speed of 242 mph (389 km/h);
  • a lifespan of at least 30 years;
  • a length no longer than about 680 feet (210 m);
  • the ability to operate two trainsets as a single "consist" (a long train);
  • have control cabs at both ends of each trainset and the ability to go equally well in either direction;
  • pass-by noise levels (82 feet (25 m) from track) not to exceed 88 dB at 155 mph (249 km/h) and 96 dB at 220 mph (350 km/h)
  • have at least 450 seats and carry 8 bicycles;
  • have seating for first class and business class passengers as well as have space for wheelchairs;
  • have food service similar to airplane-style serving;
  • allow for use of cellphones, broadband wireless internet access, and onboard entertainment services;
  • have a train communications network to notify passengers of travel/train/station/time information;
  • and also have earthquake safety systems for safe stopping and exiting.

One specification causing difficulty is the HSR train requirement for a floor height of 50 in (130 cm) above the rails. This is too high for Caltrain trains, which have a floor height of only 25 in (64 cm) (Metrolink trains have a similar issue). In October 2014, Caltrain and the Authority agreed to work together to try to implement "level-boarding" on the shared station platforms.[62] The Authority resisted lowering their trainset floor height,[63] but a solution was found with Caltrain's new Stadler KISS EMUs which will feature doors at two heights, with the higher doors compatible with the CHSR platforms.[3]

Some have expressed concerns about noise. Actually, the 96 dB limit at 350 km/h (25 m from track) is the level reached by the 1988 TGV Atlantique,[64] since then, aerodynamic improvements have been done on newer trains.

An additional factor for the selection of a model is the Buy America regulation. The Federal Railroad Administration has granted a waiver for just two prototypes to be manufactured off-shore before the remaining trainsets (initially 15 to 20 trains) would need to be built according to the rules.[65] These were mentioned as a significant reason that Chinese manufacturers dropped out of the Brightline West (then known as XpressWest) project with similar technical trainset specifications.[66]

Operations[edit]

In April 2017, the CHSRA announced it had received five responses to its request for qualifications for the contract to assist with the development and management of the initial phase of the high speed line and be the initial operator.[67][68]

  • China HSR ETO Consortium: China Railway International, Beijing Railway Administration, China Railway Eryuan Engineering Group, China Railway Corporation
  • DB International US: DB International USA, Deutsche Bahn, Alternate Concepts, HDR
  • FS First Rail Group: Ferrovie dello Stato Italiane, FirstGroup, Trenitalia, Rete Ferroviaria Italiana, Centostazioni, Italferr, McKinsey & Company
  • Renfe: Renfe Operadora, Globalvia Inversiones, Administrador de Infraestructuras Ferroviarias
  • Stagecoach Group: Stagecoach Group, Coach USA

In October 2017, the DB International US consortium was announced as the winner.[69]

Economic projections[edit]

In addition to the direct reduction in travel times the HSR project will produce, there are other anticipated benefits, both general to the state, to the regions the train will pass through, and to the areas immediately around the train stations.

Statewide economic growth and job creation[edit]

In 2009, the Authority projected that construction of the system will create 450,000 permanent jobs through the new commuters that will use the system,[70] and that the Los Angeles–San Francisco route will generate a net operating revenue of .23 billion by 2023,[70] consistent with the experience of other high-speed intercity operations around the world.[71][72] The 2012 Economic Impact Analysis Report by Parsons Brinkerhoff (project managers for the Authority) also indicated substantial economic benefits from high-speed rail.[73]

Even Amtrak's high-speed Acela Express service generates an operating surplus that is used to cover operating expenses of other lines, Amtrak says.[74] Amtrak calculates this in a way which is not equivalent to the way that it determines the costs of other train services, and most of the Acela's costs for using track and fuel are paid for by Silver Service long distance trains, according to Trains Magazine's Fred Frailey.[citation needed]

The 2012 Business Plan also estimates that the Initial Construction Segment (ICS) construction will "generate 20,000 jobs over five years," with the Phase 1 system requiring 990,000 job-years over 15 years, averaging 66,000 annually.[75] The actual rate of job creation from start of construction through 2020 was far less than the 2012 estimates.[76]

Environmental benefits[edit]

According to a 2013 fact sheet on the Authority website[77] the environmental benefits of the system include:

  • In 2022, when the Initial Operating Section (Merced to the San Fernando Valley) is up and running, the resulting greenhouse gas reductions will be between 100,000 and 300,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide (CO2) in the first year. That's the equivalent of between 17,700 and 53,000 personal vehicles taken off the road.
  • Between 2022 and 2040, the cumulative reduction of CO2 is estimated to be between 5 and 10 million metric tons. By 2040, the system is estimated to reduce vehicles miles of travel in the state by almost 10 million miles of travel every day (16,000,000 km).
  • Over a 58-year period (from the start of operations in 2022 through 2080), the system is estimated to reduce auto travel on the state's highways and roads by over 400 billion miles of travel (6.4×1011 km).

Regional benefits[edit]

In its 67-page ruling in May 2015, the federal Surface Transportation Board noted: "The current transportation system in the San Joaquin Valley region has not kept pace with the increase in population, economic activity, and tourism. ... The interstate highway system, commercial airports, and conventional passenger rail systems serving the intercity market are operating at or near capacity and would require large public investments for maintenance and expansion to meet existing demand and future growth over the next 25 years or beyond."[78] Thus, the Board sees the HSR system as providing valuable benefits to the region's transportation needs.

The San Joaquin Valley is also one of the poorest areas of the state. For example, the unemployment rate near the end of 2014 in Fresno County was 2.2% higher than the statewide average.[79] And, of the five poorest metro areas in the country, three are in the Central Valley.[80] The HSR system has the potential to significantly improve this region and its economy. A large January 2015 report to the CHSRA examined this issue.[81]

In addition to jobs and income levels in general, the presence of HSR is expected to benefit the growth in the cities around the HSR stations. It is anticipated that this will help increase population density in those cities and reduce "development sprawl" out into surrounding farmlands.[82]

Ridership and revenue concerns[edit]

In May 2015, the Los Angeles Times published an article by critics on the estimated operational revenue of the system in "Doing the math on California's bullet train fares".[83] The article raised a number of doubts that the system could be self-supporting, as required by Prop 1A, and ended by quoting Louis Thompson (chairman of an unnamed state-created review panel) who said "We will not know until late in the game how everything will turn out."[84]

The Due Diligence Report (2008) projected fewer riders by 2030 than officially estimated: 23.4 to 31.1 million intercity riders a year instead of the 65.5 to 96.5 million forecast by the Authority and later confirmed by an independent peer review.[85]

The Authority's ridership estimates initially were unrealistically high,[citation needed] and have been revised several times using progressively better estimating models, including risk analysis and confidence levels. The 2014 study (at a 50% confidence level) estimated the following ridership/revenue figures:

  • 2022 (IOS): 11.3 million riders / 5 million
  • 2027 (Bay to Basin): 19.1 million riders / 55.6 million
  • 2029 (Phase 1 initial): 28.4 million riders / 50.4 million
  • 2040 (Phase 1 mature): 33.1 million riders / 59.4 million[86]

Project budget concerns[edit]

The project's cost and scope have long been a source of controversy. Election year proponents promised a one-way Los Angeles to San Francisco fare.[87] In 2012, the Authority re-estimated the project's year-of-expenditure cost at .4 billion.[88] In 2015, the estimated cost of a fare from LA to San Francisco had risen to .[87] In March 2018, the Authority revised its estimate to .3 billion and up to .1 billion, pushing initial service to 2029 and services from Los Angeles to San Francisco to 2033.[89][90]

The Reason Foundation's Due Diligence Report (2008) projected that the final cost for the complete system (including both Phases I, II and an additional East Bay phase) would be .2 to .4 billion (2008). Current estimates from the Authority estimate a total cost for Phase 1 of .2 billion.[91] The Authority is using Design-Build construction contracts to counter the tendency toward cost over-runs. All of the construction is to be done via "design-build" proposals wherein each builder is given leeway in the design and management of construction, but not the ability to run back with contract change orders except for extraordinary problems. The builder is given specifications but also given the freedom to meet them in their own way, plus the ability to modify the construction plans in an expeditious and cost-effective manner.[92]

The California Legislative Analyst's Office published recommendations on May 10, 2011, which they said will help the high-speed rail project be developed successfully. They recommended that the California legislature seek flexibility on use of federal funds and then reconsider where construction of the high-speed rail line should start. They also recommended that the California legislature shift responsibility away from the Authority and fund only the administrative tasks of the Authority in the 2011–12 budget.[93]

In January 2012, an independent peer review panel published a report recommending the Legislature not approve issuing .7 billion in bonds to fund the project.[94] The panel of experts was created by state law to help safeguard the public's interest. The report said that moving ahead on the high-speed rail project without credible sources of adequate funding represents a financial risk to California.

Prior to the July 2012 vote, State Senator Joe Simitian, (D-Palo Alto), expressed concerns about financing needed to complete the project, asking: "Is there additional commitment of federal funds? There is not. Is there additional commitment of private funding? There is not. Is there a dedicated funding source that we can look to in the coming years? There is not."[95] The lobbying and advocacy group Train Riders Association of California also considers that Bill SB 1029 "provides no high-speed service for the next decade".[96]

In July 2014, The World Bank reported that the per kilometer cost of California's high-speed rail system was  million, more than double the average cost of –21 million per km of high speed rail in China and more than the –39 million per km average for similar projects in Europe.[97] High real estate prices in California and three mountain ranges to cross contribute to the difference. For example, Construction Package 2-3 in the farmland of the flat Central Valley works out to .4 million per km, although this figure does not include electrification or property values, so it is roughly comparable internationally. Furthermore, the proposed High Speed 2 in Great Britain is estimated to be more expensive on a per mile basis than the Californian system.

As of May 2015, both construction packages awarded have come in significantly under staff estimates. For example, Construction Package 1 came in 20% under staff estimates (5 million versus

.2 billion),[98] and Construction Package 2-3 came in under by 17% to 28% (

.234567 billion[citation needed] versus

.5–2 billion).

In December 2016, an internal-use-only draft risk assessment produced by the Federal Railroad Administration was delivered to the California Rail Authority which warned that the ICS (Merced-Bakersfield) segment could cost as much as .5 billion instead of the .4 billion originally budgeted, if certain challenges weren't addressed, including delays in environmental planning, lags in processing invoices and failures to acquire needed property. Federal Railroad Administration spokesman Matthew Lehner said that the draft risk assessment "is a standard oversight tool used on major capital projects – not just California", and he is confident the state can meet its deadline with continued focus and hard work.[99] Concern over the article prompted the Authority to send a letter on January 13, 2017 to the Legislature that said that the characterization of cost overruns, delays, and potential lapses of funds are not borne out by the facts, and that other key federal findings were ignored.[100] After downplaying risks of cost overruns, in January 2018, the Authority acknowledged that cost estimates for the initial segment had increased to .6 billion.[101][102]

In 2018, it was estimated that the first phase of CHSR will cost  billion in year-of-expenditure dollars, assuming a 2033 completion year and 3% inflation.[103]

Public opinion, peer review, and criticism[edit]

There are two types of criticism: the legally established "peer review" process that the legislature established for an independent check on the Authority's planning efforts,[104] and public criticisms by groups, individuals, public agencies, and elected officials.

As of the February 2015 conference Bold Bets: California on the Move?, which is hosted by The Atlantic magazine and Siemens, Dan Richard, the chair of the Authority, warned that not all issues to get the HSR system in place had yet been resolved.[105]

Peer Review Group[edit]

The California Legislature established the California High-Speed Rail Peer Review Group to provide independent analysis of the Authority's business plans and modeling efforts. Their documents are submitted to the Legislature as needed.

The most recent critiques are "Statement of Louis S. Thompson, Chairman, Peer Review Group, to California Assembly Transportation Committee Oversight Hearing", March 28, 2016, and "Comment on Revised 2016 Business Plan, April 25, 2016.

Key points in the 2016 business plan review include:

  • The Group still believes the Southern IOS is superior, but recognizes that the Northern IOS is more financially feasible at this time with limited resources.
  • Future funding sources are still uncertain for meeting projected needs, so there is a critical need for the Legislature to provide future guidance re financing sources and amounts.
  • The lack of connection to downtown San Francisco and downtown Bakersfield will adversely affect ridership and income, especially in the initial startup period.
  • To close these gaps, significant additional funding in the amount of .9 billion would be needed. The Authority is suggesting that Federal monies could be obtained for this, although this is very uncertain now.
  • The blended system approach raises some significant issues that need resolution before it is feasible.
  • There are some critical assumptions concerning construction costs, the ability to spend American Recovery and Reinvestment Act funding while it is still available, and the ability to securitize Cap and Trade funding for future use.

Professional studies[edit]

Two papers have been made of station siting and design in Europe.

Eric Eidlin, an employee of the Federal Transit Administration (Region 9, San Francisco), in 2015 wrote a study funded by the German Marshall Fund of the United States comparing the structural differences of the three relative to HSR and their historical development.[106] He also focused on the issue of station siting, design, use, and impact on the surrounding community. From this, he developed ten recommendations for CAHSRA. Among these are:

  • Develop bold, long-term visions for the HSR corridors and stations.
  • Where possible site HSR stations in central city locations.
  • In rural areas emphasize train speed, in urban areas emphasize transit connectivity.
  • Plan for and encourage the non-transit roles of the HSR stations.

Eidlin's study also notes that in California there has been debate on the disadvantages of the proposed blended service in the urban areas of San Francisco and Los Angeles, including reduced speeds, more operating restraints, and complicated track-sharing agreements. There are some inherent advantages in blended systems that have not received much attention: shorter transfer distances for passengers, and reduced impacts on the neighborhoods. Blended systems are in use in Europe.[107]

A 202-page study by A. Loukaitou-Sideris, D. Peters, and W. Wei of the Mineta Transportation Institute at San Jose State University in 2015 compared examples of "blended systems" in Spain and Germany where conventional and high-speed rail (HSR) services either used the same tracks over a portion of track or at a specific station.[108] The study found that blended systems were cheaper to build, required less space, and provided easy transfers between different modes of transportation but resulted in lower system capacity (due to greater separation distances required when combining HSR and conventional traffic), were often not possible to properly implement in urban areas due to the additional land area requirements for passing sidings and resulted in additional challenges operations and caused frequent delays.[109]

Think tank studies[edit]

Reason Foundation, the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association, and the Citizens Against Government Waste published a study which they named the "Due Diligence Report" (2008) critiquing the project.[110] In 2013, Reason Foundation published an "Updated Due Diligence Report" (2013).[51] Key elements of the updated critique include:

  • operating train speed higher than any existing HSR system
  • unrealistic ridership projections
  • increasing costs
  • no clear funding plan
  • incorrect assumptions regarding HSR alternatives
  • increasing fare projections

This 2013 critique is based on the 2012 Business Plan. Although the 2012 Business Plan has been superseded by the 2016 Business Plan, the critique does include the Blended System approach using commuter tracks in SF and LA.

James Fallows in The Atlantic magazine summarized all the public criticisms thus, "It will cost too much, take too long, use up too much land, go to the wrong places, and in the end won't be fast or convenient enough to do that much good anyway."[84]

Public opinion surveys[edit]

The Public Policy Institute of California (PPIC) March 2016 Statewide Survey[111] indicated that 63% of Californians think the project is either very important or somewhat important, but costs are an issue. Currently[when?] over 50% favor building the system, but this increases to 66% if costs could be reduced.

Support also varies by location (with the San Francisco Bay Area the highest at 72%, and lowest in Central Valley at 56%), by race (Asians 66%, Latinos 58%, Whites 44%, and Blacks 42%), and age (declining sharply with increasing age). Support also notably varies by political orientation. The percentage of supporters and opponents by party is: Democrat (supporters 59% v. opponents 38%), Independent (supporters 47% v. opponents 50%), and Republican (supporters 29% v. opponents 69%).

Dan Richard, chair of the Authority, says in an interview with James Fallows that he believes approval levels will increase when people can start seeing progress, and trains start running on the tracks.[105]

[edit]

Brightline West connection to Las Vegas[edit]

Brightline West (formerly Desert Xpress and XpressWest) is a project that since 2007 has been planning to build a high-speed rail line between Southern California and Las Vegas, Nevada, part of the "Southwest Rail Network" they hope to create. The rail line would begin in Las Vegas and cross the Mojave Desert stopping in Victorville, California and terminating in Palmdale, California (where it would connect with the CAHSR line and Metrolink). This route would total about 230 miles (370 km). Lisa Marie Alley, speaking for CAHSRA, said that there have been ongoing discussions concerning allowing the trains to use CAHSRA lines to go further into the Los Angeles area, although no commitments have been made as yet. While many approvals have been obtained for the rail line from Victorville to Las Vegas, the section from Palmdale to Victorville has none as yet.[112] In September 2018, Florida-based railway company Brightline purchased the rights and assets to the connection.[113]

Alternative infrastructure proposals[edit]

Some have offered the idea that instead of risking the large expenditures of high-speed rail, existing transportation methods should be increased to meet transportation needs. In a report commissioned by the Authority, a comparison was made to the needed infrastructure improvements if high-speed rail were not constructed. According to the report, the cost of building equivalent capacity to the .4 billion (YOE) Phase 1 Blended plan, in airports and freeways, is estimated to be 9 billion (YOE) for 4,295 new lane-miles (6,912 km) of highway, plus .6 billion (YOE) for 115 new airport gates and 4 new runways, for a total estimated cost of 8 billion.[114]

"Hyperloop" is an alternative system that Elon Musk has championed. He has criticized the high-speed rail project as too expensive and not technologically advanced enough (trains that are – according to Musk – too slow). On August 12, 2013, he released a high-level alpha design for a Hyperloop transit system concept which he claimed would travel over three times as fast and cost less than a tenth of the rail proposal.[115][116] The following day, he announced a plan to construct a demonstration of the concept.[117] Musk's claims have been subject to significant debate and criticism, in particular that the costs are still unknown and likely understated, the technology is not proven enough for statewide implementation, the route proposed doesn't meet the needs of providing statewide transportation, and it does not meet the legal requirements of Proposition 1A and so would require a whole new legal underpinning.[118] One flaw of the hyperloop is that it can carry far fewer passengers per trip compared to high-speed rail and, as of 2021, no sizable Hyperloop prototypes have been constructed to demonstrate that such a system is possible to construct on an intercity scale.

Further reading[edit]

  • CHSRA's 2020 Business Plan describes the latest project goals, financing, and development plans. (SB 1029 (enacted in 2012) requires the Authority to produce a revised business plan every two years.[48])
  • James Fallows in The Atlantic magazine wrote a series of 17 articles (from July 2014 to January 2015) about the HSR system which covers many aspects of the system, criticisms of it, and responses to those criticisms.
  • The "Bold Bets: California on the Move?" conference was hosted February 2015 by The Atlantic magazine and Siemens. There were some significant discussions, presentations, and interviews. Dan Richard, chair of the Authority, was interviewed by James Fallows.[105]

[edit]

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References[edit]

External links[edit]

cal.streetsblog.org

The annual update on progress and planning for the California High-Speed Rail program includes more precise estimates of costs and an outside analysis of the program's feasibility. High-Speed Rail Hits Milestones

ktla.com

The California High-Speed Rail Authority’s biennial business plan, released Tuesday, Feb. 8, 2022, shows the estimated cost of the project rising by about billion, compared to the 2020 plan ...

California high-speed rail: Is money better spent in ...

22-07-2021 · High-speed rail was supposed to connect California’s urban hubs: Los Angeles and San Francisco. Now, it’s struggling to muster enough political support to connect the tiny towns of Madera and Shafter. Thirteen years since California voters approved billion to build a bullet train, Democrats who run the state government are divided over ...

22-07-2021

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High-speed rail was supposed to connect California’s urban hubs: Los Angeles and San Francisco. Now, it’s struggling to muster enough political support to connect the tiny towns of Madera and Shafter.

Thirteen years since California voters approved billion to build a bullet train, Democrats who run the state government are divided over spending the money to finish building the first section of track — a 119-mile stretch in the Central Valley. 

Though Gov. Gavin Newsom proposed pouring .2 billion into completing the segment, lawmakers balked and left the funds out of the June budget. Now, the governor and fellow Democrats who control the Legislature are negotiating how much to chug along by laying track in the farm belt — or whether to spend more on transportation projects in more heavily populated regions.

“Typically what you’d see with projects like this is they’d start where the people are at and then radiate outwards. So, we would have started building high-speed rail in the San Francisco Bay Area, down in LA, and then eventually connect it,” said Ethan Elkind, director of the climate program at the UC Berkeley School of Law.

“We would have started building high-speed rail in the San Francisco Bay Area, down in LA, and then eventually connect it.”

Ethan Elkind, director of the climate program at the UC Berkeley School of Law

“We did this really backwards, and now we’re starting to really see the political price of that decision.”

The Newsom administration, however, praises high-speed rail as a job creator in the economically-struggling Central Valley. And then there’s the federal government: If California wavers on funding high-speed rail now, it could make it harder to compete for federal funds with other states. The last time Newsom publicly questioned the project, the Trump administration yanked

billion — funding that was only recently restored by President Biden.  

“We are going to bat at the federal level for the funding necessary to build this first-in-the-nation high-speed rail system, and we urge the State Legislature to maintain its commitment at the state level,” U.S. Senators Dianne Feinstein and Alex Padilla wrote in a letter to legislative leaders this week.

But the Legislature isn’t so fast to green-light more money. Key lawmakers, especially in the Assembly, say they don’t see the benefit for their Southern California constituents. And even if the bullet train eventually reaches Los Angeles and San Francisco, some legislators are skeptical that car-centric Californians will become train riders without more exposure to public transit in their daily lives. 

“How (do) we turn California car culture into a California culture of transit of all sorts?” said Assembly Transportation Committee chairperson Laura Friedman, a Glendale Democrat. “That is the big question — and how does high-speed rail interact with that?”

Until then, she is reluctant to pump more money into a train through the sparsely populated Central Valley. With a quarter of California’s population living in Los Angeles County, Friedman would like to see money spent on improving Union Station in Los Angeles, the Metrolink commuter rail and transit between the San Fernando Valley and LA’s Westside.

She said she doesn’t see why California needs to immediately devote billion more to high-speed rail when “they’re spending a billion and a half a year.” 

Machinery along the road near a construction site for high speed rail lines at road 27 in Madera on July 8, 2021. Photo by Anne Wernikoff, CalMatters

The Newsom administration says high-speed rail construction is at a critical point. Money is needed now to complete the final piece of the Central Valley portion, according to Brian Annis, chief financial official at the California High-Speed Rail Authority. And, he said, the state is on the cusp of choosing a contractor to lay the bullet train’s track. That’ll cost money, too. 

“The project has taken longer than originally thought. The scope has increased, which has added some costs,” Annis said. “But again, we’re hitting some major milestones here where we’re almost fully completed with our design.”

Without this funding, the Newsom administration argues, fewer workers will be needed and layoffs could start as soon as next summer.

More than 75% of those workers hail from the Central Valley — about 1,100 head to construction sites daily for jobs that come with health care and hard-to-find stability.  For one Central Valley carpenter, working near home for more than three months at a time had been uncommon.

“He’s home all the time now because this job has some length to it,” said Chuck Riojas, the executive director of the Building Trades Council for several Central Valley counties.

But the Newsom administration is having a hard time convincing the Legislature that the investment now is worth it.

“I support the concept of a high-speed rail in California, but I think our current approach is not working,” Democratic Assemblymember Luz Rivas, who represents the San Fernando Valley, said at a hearing in June. “There are other approaches that have been presented that could increase rail ridership, and I hope that those will be part of the discussion.”

“I support the concept of a high-speed rail in California, but I think our current approach is not working.”

Assemblymember Luz Rivas

A poll funded by the Assembly Democrats found that Californians are evenly split between killing high-speed rail or continuing it, but that support for the project is far higher among Democrats, the San Francisco Chronicle reported.

Friedman argues that better local service will boost support for trains, eventually restoring voters’ favor for high-speed rail. “We need to create a state of train riders in order to have the political will to finish this project,” she said.

Newsom also wants to fund local transit — his May revision proposed

billion toward improving regional and local rail services. The debate is over how much. 

“It’s not really an issue of high-speed rail or local transit. What the governor is proposing is to advance both,” said Annis at the rail authority. 

“It’s not really an issue of high-speed rail or local transit. What the governor is proposing is to advance both.

Brian Annis, chief financial official at the California High-Speed Rail Authority.

But Friedman is dubious whether

billion is sufficient, saying it would “be helpful. But… tracks are expensive. Trains are expensive.”

Some urban Democrats have been vocal about accepting the governor’s proposal as is. Sen. Scott Wiener from San Francisco tweeted in June that he supports Newsom’s funding plan because “high speed rail is a critical part of California’s transportation & climate future.”  

Most Senate Democrats support moving ahead with funding high-speed rail, Senate leader Toni Atkins said. But she, too, wants to see more money for local transit projects in her region.

The San Diego Democrat said she’ll advocate for funding to move train tracks along the coast in Del Mar, where bluffs are eroding as much as six inches a year.  

“We’re within 21 inches of the bluffs, so we are underway to move that line. That is the second busiest line in the country,” Atkins said. 

With legislators having left Sacramento for a month-long summer break, decisions on rail and transportation funding likely won’t be settled until after they return in mid-August. Then negotiations kick into high gear before the legislative session ends on Sept. 10. 

Elkind, the UC Berkeley climate lawyer, sees politics at play in the stand-off over high-speed rail:

“Given that it doesn’t seem like there’s much hope of the project coming anywhere close to the major population centers anytime soon, you’re seeing these legislators trying to essentially get leverage to salvage… money for their districts.” 

CalMatters reporter Laurel Rosenhall contributed to this story.

For the record: This story has been updated to delete a reference to a 2030 deadline for completing a segment of high-speed rail from Madera to Shafter. That deadline pertains to a longer stretch, 171 miles from Merced to Bakersfield.

msn.com

The Times' review found that California has approved 273 change orders for the Spanish contractor — about one every week since mid-2015. These changes covered items that included extra insurance ...

Costs climb again for California's high-speed rail project ...

08-02-2022 · FILE - A full-scale mock-up of a high-speed train, is displayed at the Capitol in Sacramento, Calif., on Feb. 26, 2015. The California High-Speed Rail Authority's biennial business plan, released Tuesday, Feb. 8, 2022, shows the estimated cost of the project rising by about billion, compared to the 2020 plan, up to as much as 5 billion.

08-02-2022

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — Another billion has been added to the cost of California’s ambitious but long delayed high-speed rail line, according to estimates released Tuesday that show it could take 5 billion to finish the route from San Francisco to Los Angeles.

The figures were included in the California High Speed Rail Authority’s latest biennial business plan. The increases are partly due to commitments aimed at minimizing community disruption, such as distancing the train from the Cesar E. Chavez National Monument in the Central Valley and tunneling tracks near the Burbank airport, project officials said.

The project’s price tag has steadily risen since voters first approved nearly billion in bond money for it in 2008, when the total cost was pegged at billion. In the years since, the costs have kept climbing amid struggles to obtain the necessary land and other delays. Today, the rail authority is far short of the money it needs to complete the full project.

The first part of the line will run through the Central Valley; construction is underway on a 119-mile segment where the trains will first be tested before the track is extended to take passengers from Merced to Bakersfield. No track has yet been laid, but the authority has obtained 90% of the land parcels it needs for the first segment and more than half the full 500-mile (804-kilometer) route is now environmentally cleared, according to the business plan.

Chief Executive Officer Brian Kelly said Tuesday the possibility of a fresh infusion of cash from the federal government puts the project on a stronger path. California should be in a good position to compete for as much as billion in grant money under the federal infrastructure bill Congress passed last year, he said.

During the Obama administration, California won roughly .5 billion for the project, then former Republican President Donald Trump revoked about

billion of that. It’s been returned by the Biden administration.

Receiving billions more in federal dollars would allow the project’s first operational track to be a double track, not a single one, and help the project move forward on design and other work, Kelly said.

“We just think that this is a great opportunity to really move the project forward,” he said.

Republican Assemblyman Jim Patterson of Fresno, a longtime critic of the project whose district it will run through, was unimpressed by the business plan’s hopes for receiving more federal money to build a double track.

“Given the embarrassing failures this project has racked up, I’d be surprised if the feds decide to throw more money at it,” Patterson said in a statement.

As the project waits for more funding from the Biden administration, the rail authority is also fighting for money from the state. Last year, the Legislature did not agree to Gov. Gavin Newsom’s budget request to release .2 billion that’s left in the voter-approved bond fund for the project. Democratic leaders in the state Assembly have been hesitant to release the money due to skepticism about the project’s overall approach and lack of sustained funding.

Last fall, Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon and Assemblywoman Laura Friedman suggested the rail authority delay plans to electrify the first leg of track. Neither responded to requests for comment on Tuesday.

Newsom, a Democrat, proposed releasing the money again in his January budget proposal as part of a transportation package that also includes billions of dollars for local rail and transportation projects.

“Although the administration was disappointed that the transportation package didn’t get done last year, we continue to move forward and are working to achieve funding in this year’s budget,” Newsom spokesman Daniel Lopez said in a statement.

Beyond the bond money and federal dollars, the rail project is funded by revenue from California’s cap-and-trade program, which requires polluters to buy permits to emit carbon.

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Billion" data-collect-id="224125118">California Bullet Train Cost Rises By Another

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sacramento.cbslocal.com

SACRAMENTO (AP) – The California High-Speed Rail Authority on Wednesday bumped its overall cost estimate for completing the rail line between San Francisco and Los Angeles to .3 billion ...

The California High-Speed Train that Wasn’t: The ...

Audited construction costs show the first 119 miles of California's 200 mph double tracked high speed rail project have an expected construction cost of million dollars per mile and a worst case construction cost of 4 million dollars per mile. Compared to local rail projects in California that are running at anywhere from 0 million ...

Then there's the infrastructure envy syndrome: "We have to finish it because [France / Spain / China / Japan / even Morocco] has high-speed rail and doggone it, California deserves nice things too." 

But what if we take a step back, given the nightmare that this has become, and ask, “What are the actual justifications that don't involve sunk cost or emotional attachments? What is the problem for which California High Speed Rail is the solution?”

I would suggest that there's no good answer to that for which this proposal, at this scope, given these wholly predictable setbacks, is anywhere near the best use of resources.

The opportunity cost of the High Speed Rail effort—not just money, but political capital, time and energy that could have gone to other things—has been heavy from the outset, and an object lesson in why going with the least-dumb idea consensus provides is not a good governing principle. Every objective of this project is one that California could be well underway to addressing by now had the money been distributed across other, higher-returning, less risky investments.

The state High Speed Rail (HSR) authority cites four benefits of high speed rail:

• Increase Mobility: Improve mobility in the face of growth—with the state's population estimated to reach 50 million by 2050.

• Better Air Quality: Improve air quality by shifting people from cars and planes to clean trains.

• Needed Alternative: Provide a more convenient and productive way to travel and new opportunities to collaborate on business.

• Job Growth: Stimulate job growth across the state—now with construction jobs and long-term with maintenance and operation jobs.

I'm confused by "needed alternative," which just seems circular (we need it because we need it, duh!), so let's look at the other three.

If the problem is mobility: California's bigger mobility problems are not travel between regions, but within them. The state's urban freeways are choked with super-commuters priced out of its big cities by untenable housing costs, and day-to-day public transit within those big cities is sorely inadequate. San Francisco Muni horror stories are the stuff of legend. These systems are crying out for hundreds of small-scale fixes to reliability, frequency, comfort, and route distribution. What could we do with billion?

If the problem is air pollution: I'm going to lump air quality together with the issue of greenhouse gases here. 41% of California's 2016 greenhouse gas emissions were from the transportation sector, but only 2.5% of those were from air travel. A full 89% were from car travel. If we want to reduce car travel in California, high-speed rail might help, but the intercity trips it caters to are small potatoes next to the problem of what you do when you step off the train. We need to focus on urban land use, urban public transportation, walkability, and bikeability. On those fronts, what could we do with billion?

If the problem is economic development: High speed rail would certainly open up much more convenient travel from the Central Valley to the Bay Area and to LA, and likely strengthen economic links between the Central Valley (poorer and more agrarian) and those booming tech-driven economies. Those links might come in the form of more of those super-commuters fleeing coastal housing costs, who would create demand for new businesses in Central Valley cities. But again, what is the return on investment? What if we spent even a fraction of that money directly on producing home-grown wealth in the Central Valley, say, through any of these five tested, low-risk strategies? What could we do with billion?

It's The Process, Stupid

The problem is that we don't have a process to make billion in a mix of public investment, private investment leveraged by that public investment, and debt financing available to a grab bag of incremental projects with a high rate of return (and diverse enough that if some of them fail to deliver, it's not a big deal).

We do have a process to make untold billions available to a pipe dream of statewide high-speed rail. Which might not even prove to be a bad investment once we got it up and running: I'm not going to prejudge that. But which is certainly a tremendous gamble with heavy opportunity costs. A big part of the tragedy here is all the things California has spent over ten years years not doing while fixated on high-speed rail.

Want to transform transportation in California? So do I. There are thousands of small, low-risk, neglected needs in California’s transportation sector alone. What would it take to have a system in place that would let those thousand flowers bloom?

(Cover photo: Shinkansen (bullet train) in Japan. Wikimedia Commons.)

bayrailalliance.org

This is the reality in other parts of the world. Japan celebrated 40 years of high-speed rail in 2004. Their first high-speed rail trains are now in museums. HSR in California. In November 2008, voters in California approved Proposition 1A, a .9 billion bond for High Speed Rail.

French TGV and German ICE trains
Source: Flickr

High-Speed Rail (HSR) refers to very fast trains that typically operate at speeds of 125 – 200 mph. Some examples are the TGV in France, ICE in Germany, Shinkansen in Japan, the AVE in Spain, and the KTX in South Korea.

By comparison, Caltrain and BART typically travel at maximum speeds of less than 80 mph, and have average speeds (including station stops) of about 35 mph for local trains. Amtrak’s average speed is about 40 -55 mph with a maximum speed of 79 mph in most areas.

Most U.S. residents have had no experience with high-speed rail because it doesn’t exist yet in the United States in a form comparable to what’s found elsewhere in the world.

Imagine you are traveling from Mountain View to Los Angeles.  You take Caltrain from Mountain View to San Jose, then transfer to a high-speed rail train that leaves from San Jose, right on time.

The train that you board looks inviting. It has comfortable seats that are much roomier and have a lot more legroom than on an airplane.  It has tray tables that fold down and also a dining area with seats and tables. It has electrical outlets where you may plug in your laptop. You are welcome to get up and walk through the train anytime you need to stretch your legs.

The ride is super smooth – no turbulence – and the air that you’re breathing isn’t stale and dry like on the last airplane flight you took. If you didn’t look out the window to view the landscape speeding by, you wouldn’t believe that you’re traveling at speeds of over 150 mph.

Two and a half hours later, you’re at Union Station in downtown Los Angeles. You wheel your luggage off the train and transfer to one of the local transit lines or a taxi to get to your hotel just a short ride away in downtown.

Your ticket cost less than what it would cost to fly, and you arrive more relaxed than if you’d flown or driven. No fog, wind, or rain delayed your trip. The trains are so punctual, you can almost set your watch by them.

This is the reality in other parts of the world. Japan celebrated 40 years of high-speed rail in 2004. Their first high-speed rail trains are now in museums.

HSR in California


In November 2008, voters in California approved Proposition 1A, a .9 billion bond for High Speed Rail. Currently, the California High Speed Rail Authority is preparing environmental documents and conducting engineering studies for HSR between the San Francisco Bay Area, Sacramento, Los Angeles and San Diego. In February 2009, President Obama signed the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, which provides billion for high speed rail projects nationwide. In January 2010, the Obama administration announced that California will receive .34 billion from ARRA.

California High-Speed Rail Authority website

HSR will be built if the state and federal government sustain their commitment to providing money and attracting private investment. BayRail Alliance is participating in the planning process to ensure the project would provide the maximum transportation benefits with the least temporary and permanent impacts to Caltrain riders and the community.

Why HSR?

The first generation (1960s) and the current generation of the Japanese Shinkansen trains. Source: Flickr

California’s population will continue to increase in the next forty years. If we build nothing, our whole state will be mired in paralyzing gridlock.

Expanding our highways and airports to provide for an equivalent level of mobility in lieu of HSR, will cost TWICE as much as building HSR. Expanding highways and airports will also destroy important environmentally-sensitive habitat, pollute the air, create more noise and result in our state emitting millions more metric tons of greenhouse gases per year. This is why the Sierra Club has been supportive of the concept of building HSR in California.

Much of the state’s population growth is happening in the Central Valley, and that will be the case whether or not we build HSR to serve those areas. HSR is the best option for improving mobility between the Central Valley and the rest of the state. Specific policies by the HSRA are designed to encourage compact growth patterns in the Central Valley and wherever HSR stations are located.

An estimated 450,000 jobs would be created by its construction, and once the HSR system is built, it would turn a profit and be able to pay for its own operations, as it has in some other parts of the world.

Cost

Originally estimated to be about billion. In 2012, the revised cost estimate for the system from the Bay Area to Los Angeles/Anaheim in Phase 1 (included the blended section)  is somewhere between and billion. The initial section in the Central Valley is estimated to cost between to billion.

When?

The High Speed Authority plans to construct the Central Valley segment later in 2013. Diesel trains are expected to run on the newly constructed section as soon as 2016 or 2018. Later phases include electrification, track constructions between the Central Valley and Southern California, Central Valley and the Bay Area, and urban blended sections on the Peninsula and Los Angeles. The phase 1 system is expected to complete in 2028 or 2030. Until the tracks are completed between the Central Valley and the Bay Area, the High Speed Rail business plan calls for a “Northern California Unified Service,” an enhanced conventional rail service via the San Joaquin, Capitol Corridor, and Altamont Corridor to connect with High Speed Rail in Merced.

enotrans.org

December 2009 – CHSRA updates the .6 billion cost estimate (which was in 2008 dollars) to .9 billion (also in 2008 dollars), and then converts that to .6 billion in year-of-expenditure (YOE) dollars. The revised business plan assumes billion in Prop 1A bonds, -19 billion in federal funds, -5 billion in local funding, and ...

hsr-test.hsr.ca.gov

Northern California. California is building a high-speed rail system to connect the megaregions of the state and transform how people travel. More than

.6 billion of Proposition 1A funds and other California High-Speed Rail Authority funding are supporting investments in Northern California, including 4 million to Caltrain’s Peninsula ...

patabook.com

The California bullet train is facing at least another billion dollars of proposed cost increases from its contractors, following a history of sharp cost growth on construction work over the last eight years, The Times has learned.. The state’s High-Speed Rail Authority has mostly approved such increases in the past, and if it does so again, contractors could proceed with …

dailywire.com

Democrats have long touted California’s high-speed rail as an example of an alternative form of transportation, while reducing greenhouse gases and revitalizing the struggling Central Valley. As an added bonus, the state has repeatedly said the rail’s construction would bring decent construction jobs to the Golden State.

The NeverEnding Project: CA High-Speed Rail and the ...

01-04-2021 · In another disappointing, yet unsurprising, turn of events, the initial segment of the California High-Speed Rail project has been delayed by an additional two years, now to 2025. This news comes just ONE WEEK after a business plan with a 2023 completion date was adopted. The California High-Speed Rail project is one of the most expensive failures in State history and …

01-04-2021


In another disappointing, yet unsurprising, turn of events, the initial segment of the California High-Speed Rail project has been delayed by an additional two years, now to 2025. This news comes just ONE WEEK after a business plan with a 2023 completion date was adopted.  

The California High-Speed Rail project is one of the most expensive failures in State history and could cost 0 billion, more than three times the  billion that was initially estimated. This project, still nowhere near completion, was also expected to begin service in 2020. But that timeline has since come and gone, and now rather than three years behind schedule – which was already inexcusable to California taxpayers that were sold a bill of goods in 2008 – it is once again off the rails. As a comparison, the Transcontinental Railroad was built in 6 years almost completely by hand and over a century and a half ago.

But advances in modern technology couldn’t save this project from the fundamental flaws that have plagued it. In fact, every step of the way, the California High-Speed Rail Authority has mismanaged funds, misled Californians about timelines, and misinformed the public about ridership figures in a feeble attempt to hide the truth – the California High-Speed Rail project is an undeniable failure. To help cut our State’s losses on this boondoggle, last Congress, Congressman Kevin McCarthy introduced a commonsense bill, the RAILWAY Act. This legislation would have repurposed certain unused federal funds for the California High-Speed Rail project to improve our State’s ailing water infrastructure, so that California’s nearly 40 million residents could actually see some benefits from its tax dollars. Unfortunately, the House Democrat majority refused to even consider the idea and did not allow a hearing or a vote on the matter. 

The California High-Speed Rail project is going nowhere fast, and Californians should not be expected to foot the bill for a project that has been chronically stalled. California Republicans, including Congresswoman Michelle Steel, have rallied against this bad policy on the State level for years. And as a new Congresswoman, Steel has continued this fight on the federal level, recently introducing the Stop the High-Speed Money Pit Act. This legislation, which Congressman McCarthy was proud to cosponsor, would rightfully prohibit federal assistance for the wasteful California High-Speed Rail project.

The staunch evidence against this botched project is clear, yet somehow, President Biden has found California’s mismanagement of high-speed rail inspiring, and seems to be signaling that a 9 million grant, which was rescinded by the previous Administration for the California High-Speed Rail Authority’s failure to deliver on its contractual obligations, could be reinstated. Americans deserve infrastructure that is pro-worker, efficient in both time and costs, and effective, not an avant-garde concept that hasn’t delivered.