Single-track corridor to launch Californian high speed service by 2030

Railway Gazette International report:

California High Speed Rail Authority has issued a Revised Draft Business Plan confirming its intention to press ahead with completing a starter section of high speed line in the Central Valley for revenue operations by the end of the decade.

The draft was published on February 9 for public consultation before being formally submitted to the state legislature in April.

The plan calls for completion of what the authority terms ‘a high speed rail interim service line’ between Merced, Fresno and Bakersfield, which are three of the ‘fastest growing areas’ in the state.

This would complete a 270 km section of the original 1 300 km state-wide programme set out in 2009.

Construction work is already underway at multiple locations along the starter segment.

Viaduct construction over the San Joaquin River in north Fresno

Bay to Basin vision maintained

Under the plan, CHSRA intends to complete the environmental approval process for what it terms the Phase 1 route covering approximately 800 km between San Francisco and Los Angeles/Anaheim.

It will also undertake more construction on the $3bn of so-called ‘bookend’ projects covering local transport in Los Angeles and the San Francisco Bay Area, and ‘pursue additional funding opportunities to prospectively close the gaps and expand electrified high speed rail service to the Bay Area and Los Angeles/Anaheim as soon as possible’.

California High Speed Rail Route
The planned high-speed route

The election of passenger rail advocate Joe Biden as President has restored a modicum of momentum to the programme.

Newly appointed Transportation Secretary Pete Buttegieg has already emphasised the role high speed rail could play in developing more sustainable infrastructure in the USA in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic.

New Train Station, California
One of the new planned stations

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