US allocates funds for California high-speed rail project

23 November 2011 (Last Updated November 23rd, 2011 18:30)

The California High-Speed Rail Authority in US has secured nearly $1bn from the US Department of Transport (DOT) to carry out the first phase of the Central Valley segment of the California high-speed rail project.

California High Speed

The California High-Speed Rail Authority in US has secured nearly $1bn from the US Department of Transport (DOT) to carry out the first phase of the Central Valley segment of the California high-speed rail project.

The latest funding of $928.6m will add to the $3.5bn that has been secured by the authority in the form of federal stimulus money to fund design, engineering, and construction of the initial segment of the high-speed rail system spanning from Merced to Bakersfield.

Funding for the proposed project has been given to California from the US Government's 2010 budget, boosting the funding commitment from California state and the US Government to $6bn.

Construction on the line will begin in the third quarter of 2012 on the 130km segment from Fresno.

California High-Speed Rail Authority chairman Thomas J Umberg said: "The announcement of the federal funds makes good on the promise of our new draft business plan. The funding for the first segment is identified, committed and we are moving forward."

The phase one segment is scheduled for completion by 2017, while the next phase of work will be carried out either in the southern part of the state, from Merced to Palmdale, or in the north, from Bakersfield to San José.

In addition, the Californian authority is planning to sell $10bn voter-approved bonds to finance the section of the project.

Accordingto the plans, the high-speed rail line will initially connect San Francisco to Los Angeles / Anaheim through the Central Valley, and the authority is planning to extend the line from Sacramento to San Diego.

Trains will travel at a speed of 220mph and will cover the distance between LA and San Francisco in 2 hours and 40 minutes.

US DOT secretary LaHood said, "California's population will grow by 60% over the next 40 years and investing in a green, job-creating, high-speed rail network is less expensive and more practical than paying for all of the expansions to already congested highways and airports that would be necessary to accommodate the state's projected population boom."

The California High-Speed Rail Authority had recently released a business plan estimating that the cost of the high-speed rail project would be $98.5bn in 2011 - more than double its initial estimate of $43bn in 2008.

The authority said that the rise in cost is due to the project's extended construction schedules and the need to match possible future inflation at an average of 3% a year.

According to the 2008 estimate, the project was planned to be completed by 2020 but, according to the revised business plan, the project will now be completed by 2033.

The proposed rail project plans will be completed and provided to the legislature in January 2012.