May 18, 2011

Calif. high-speed authority, UK sign cooperative agreement

The Chairman of the California High-Speed Rail Authority Board, Curt Pringle, signed a cooperative agreement with United Kingdom Trade & Investment to exchange high-speed rail planning, design and operations information.

The non-binding agreement initiates the exchange of information between California and the UK to "establish and develop a long-term cooperation in the field of high-speed rail transportation," according to the document.

The UK is home to the High Speed 1 (HS1) system (formerly known as the Channel Tunnel Rail Link), which is a 67‐mile rail line that carried train passengers from the UK to mainland Europe. Service is provided by four operators: Eurostar, First Capital Connect, East Midlands Trains and Southeastern Railway.

In November 2010, it was announced that two Canadian pension funds would purchase from the UK government a 30‐year concession to operate HS1.

The UK is currently planning its newest extension, "HS2," a high‐speed rail line that will initially link London and Birmingham, and later, to Manchester and Leeds.

The California High-Speed Rail Authority currently has partnerships with eight other countries for high-speed rail planning and cooperative information sharing, including South Korea, Belgium, China, France, Germany, Italy, Japan and Spain.

The Authority's international agreements have proven beneficial in gathering the world's experience related to high‐speed rail's benefits, feedback on proposed operations and maintenance plans and impact mitigation efforts. 

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