The big news is that the first segment planned for construction is no longer 130 miles between Bakersfield and Fresno. The initial segment in the new business plan is now 300 miles between Merced and the San Fernando Valley, which the Authority says reduces the project price from $98 billion to about $68 billion — still many billions more than the Authority has thus far secured to build the project. So that’s one challenge.
While that initial segment is being built, Caltrain will be electrified in the Bay Area to speed commutes between San Jose and San Francisco; eventually that will be connected to the rest of the high-speed system, as will Anaheim and Los Angeles Union Station. By “blending” high-speed rail with existing rail — and providing upgrades to Metrolink also — the Authority says it can speed up construction and avoid inflation and cut costs.
Here’s the news release:
FRESNO – The California High-Speed Rail Authority today released a revised Business Plan to launch the nation’s first high-speed rail service—capable of traveling 220 miles-per-hour from Merced to the San Fernando Valley—within ten years.
“Our revised plan makes high-speed rail better, faster and cheaper,” High-Speed Rail Authority Chairman Dan Richard told a news conference today at the Southern Pacific Building in Fresno. “Drawing on hundreds of public comments as well as the expertise of our technical staff, we were able to refine our thinking and improve the plan enormously. The revised plan will enhance local rail service immediately and, in the long term, cut total project costs by $30 billion.”