High-Speed Rail Authority staff recommends location for initial construction of bullet train tracks

Here’s the press release below from the California High-Speed Rail Authority, saying that agency staff is recommending that the initial 65-mile segment of tracks be built between Madera and Corcoran in the San Joaquin Valley, with a completion date of 2017. The segment of track would be part of the Anaheim to San Francisco line that is scheduled to be built before the line is extended south to San Diego.

The press release doesn’t say anything about the purchase of rail cars or when the tracks would actually come into use:


Authority staff have recommended a starting point for construction on a critical portion of track in the heart of the Central Valley, which the Board will review along with three other options, at its December 2, 2010, meeting.

About the recommendation:

* Spanning about 65 miles, the recommended segment would start near Madera, include the construction of two new stations – one in downtown Fresno and the other east of Hanford – and continue south to Corcoran.

* Estimates place the cost of the proposed section at $4.15 billion, which leaves enough money to – if necessary – connect these tracks with existing rail lines as per a federal “independent utility” requirement.

* The cost of the project accounts for two new stations, right-of-way acquisition, viaduct construction, site preparation, grading, vegetation restoration, rail bridge construction, roadway realignments, relocation of existing railways and utilities. The final track would be ready in 2017.

The recommendation is based on key factors including:

* Starting here gives us flexibility to build in either direction – north and west to the Bay Area or south to Los Angeles – as more federal dollars become available. (The funding other states are sending back to Washington – if redirected to California – would allow us to extend initial construction all the way to Bakersfield.)

* The recommendation follows direction last month by the Federal Railroad Administration, which indicated that the federal funding awarded to the project – both the stimulus funding and the Fiscal Year 2010-11 dollars – must be dedicated to a single section of the project in the Central Valley.

In making this decision the Authority Board will consider the best location to begin construction that meets the federal and state requirements and will best prepare the Authority to finish building the nation’s first true high-speed rail system, connecting Los Angeles to Bay Area.

No construction can begin until the Authority completes its relevant environmental reviews of the project. The federal deadline for completing these reviews is September 2011.

We’re delighted to include you in this announcement and urge you to stay in touch (via email, our Facebook page, or Twitter). Your continued engagement and interest is welcome as this project moves forward. More information, construction updates and a map of the recommendation are available on our Web site.

14 replies

  1. Im sorry I just have to say this. The HSR in CA has got to be the dumbest idea ever. This is not France, Germany, or Japan where the transportation system is superb. We live in cash strapped CA. Also we have some of the highest peaks in the country seperating major city centers. If we do have HSR it should be between LA and San Diego. If he Central Valley wants its own seperate line then it will probably run from Oakland since it is more accessible. Also making the train go into San Francisco is like traveling through the Sierra’s. There is too many hills and population density so it would have to be all underground. Subsidize the air travel in CA. HSR is not the way to go in CA. Texas or Florida yes but CA no.

  2. I hope that the provision to connect with existing track translates to a viable service route from L.A. to S.F. with a HST middle-segment. Otherwise, there’s not much point in building a HST with very little passenger demand!

    If I can get on a train and it takes 4 hours to go between L.A. and S.F., it would be worth it not to deal with security hassles at LAX.

  3. I just hope Metro/LACMTA runs it on the south end. If Amtrak has anything to do with it, it’s doomed.

  4. I think this is a good first segment. It isn’t and won’t be a highly used segment, but it does provide time to come back to and fix the (mis-) alignments to the south through Palmdale and to the north through San Jose.

  5. Finally were close to the birth of the HST and Cali will be the first state in the US to have the HST. I just hope the engineers plan to make it earthquake safe, cause were over due. Hey Southwest! be prepared to lower your rates even more, lol.

  6. I understand how this is the place they have to start, but this really worries me. At the moment all we’ve got is solid movement toward building less than 100 miles of track connecting small population centers for more than $4 billion. I am seriously excited about this train getting built, but this sounds like a train to nowhere at the moment…

  7. I am happy to see these kinds of trains in California. However, living in Southern California I am not encouraged by the way MTA’s light rail trains are being deployed. We need a grid structure which is more of the blue/green lines crossings vs all trains only meet at their ends which is all the other one. Why not just build trains along the freeways or take center lanes to do it. This would prevent the municipal battles ideally that prevent the Green line from meeting the Metrolink instead being about a mile short. Fast trains won’t help us if connections are slow, inconvenient or non-existent. We need grids running north and south and east and west. I am however encouraged. Keep it up.

  8. The Central Valley around Fresno is a perfect flat place to start. The line is flat so this is where the top speed of 220mph can be obtained. If money returned by other states is added the tracks can extend to Bakersfield.

  9. Another pork barrel project which will do nothing to relieve traffic problems but it will waste more of our tax dollars.
    See article in newsweek.

  10. Dont take the advice from the MTA Staff. Why? A train that goes no ware example the green line. Second, a train that goes to the Sea, but stops at the V.A. Should I go on….

  11. If they are going to build anything to Las Vegas make it to Las Vegas. I heard they would only build it to Barstow. How ridiculous is that? How do I get the rest of the way to Vegas?