By now, everybody in the rail management and advocacy communities, along with much of the general public, knows what happened to California’s high-speed rail (HSR) project. It’s dead. In his State of the State address, Governor Gavin Newsom scaled it down. Seven days later, the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) finished the job with a letter from Administrator Ron Batory to Newsom and California High-Speed Rail Authority (CHSRA) CEO Brian P. Kelly.
For all intents and purposes, California’s high-speed rail project is dead. At least that’s the consensus among several observers of the U.S. high-speed rail scene, which, sadly, appears to be based more upon fantasy than reality.
“Real high-speed rail might still make sense in the U.S. in the densely populated Northeast Corridor and among certain high-population city-pairs elsewhere in the U.S. in the ‘sweet spot’ of 250-500 miles apart (too far to drive easily, too short to fly conveniently), if costs can be kept under control,” writes Eno Center for Transportation Senior Fellow and Eno Transportation Weekly Editor Jeff Davis. “But future high-speed rail projects would do well to avoid seven mistakes that have caused the California system to be indefinitely delayed.”
California Gov. Gavin Newsom, citing budget pressures, says the state will not move forward with plans to connect Los Angeles and San Francisco by high-speed rail. Rather, Newsom said the state will build only the 119-mile Central Valley segment of the line, linking Merced and Bakersfield. Newsom’s remarks, made during his first State of the State address Feb. 12, were not widely expected.
A dispute between Union Pacific and contractors threatens to slow construction of California’s high speed rail line.
California’s proposed high-speed rail system will cost $13 billion more and take four years longer to build than original estimates.
The California High-Speed Rail Authority (CHSRA) Board of Directors on Nov. 16 awarded a performance-based contract of up to $30 million to DB (Deutsche Bahn AG) Engineering & Consulting USA for “Early Train Operator” services to assist with planning, designing and implementing the agency’s high-speed rail program.
On May 5, 2016, the Caltrain Board of Directors adopted an agreement that invests an additional $211 million in the Caltrain Modernization Program. The seven-party agreement increases funding commitments from Caltrain’s state and local partners, including an additional $113 million commitment from the California High Speed Rail Authority (CHSRA).
The California High-Speed Rail Authority (CHSRA) has awarded the Spanish company SENER a $56 million contract to develop the engineering and environmental services for the Palmdale to Burbank section of the California High-Speed Line. The environmental documentation for this section is due to be completed by the end of 2017.