April 2, 2012

Revised Calif. high-speed plan cuts costs by $30 billion

The California High-Speed Rail Authority released a revised Business Plan to launch the nation’s first high-speed rail service within 10 years.   

“Our revised plan makes high-speed rail better, faster and cheaper,” High-Speed Rail Authority Chairman Dan Richard told a news conference 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.”

Under the revised 2012 Business Plan, construction begins this year on the 300-mile Initial Operating Section, stretching from Merced to the San Fernando Valley. This new plan also improves the safety and efficiency of existing urban rail systems. These improvements will bring immediate benefits to commuters and ultimately allow the integration of local systems with high-speed rail. The key changes to this revised business plan include:

  • Constructing 300 miles of electrified rail from Merced to San Fernando Valley in 10 years.
  • Improving existing rail service in the San Francisco Bay Area and Los Angeles regions to prepare those systems for high-speed rail service.
  • Cutting $30 billion in costs, through the blended approach, cost savings and inflation assumptions.
  • The potential to access cap and trade funds as a backstop to federal funding.

The revised business plan also improves existing local rail systems in Northern California, Southern California and the San Francisco Bay Area. These improvements include converting local diesel-powered rail systems to electric power and improving safety through positive train control. The new plan also includes safety and reliability upgrades to existing Amtrak/Metrolink rail corridors between Los Angeles’ Union Station and Anaheim. All these improvements will increase the speed at which trains currently in service can travel safely.

Construction of the entire 520-mile rail system will finish in 2028, with service to begin in 2029. This improved system will cost $68.4 billion in year-of-expenditure dollars, a $30 billion reduction over the previous plan. Six billion dollars in funding has already been identified for the first segment of the Initial Operating Section, including $3.3 billion in federal funding and $2.7 billion in voter-approved Proposition 1A bond proceeds. Cap and trade funds are also available as a backstop against federal and local support to complete the initial operating section. No operating subsidy will be required.

This revised business plan must be approved by the California High-Speed Rail Authority board of directors, who will meet in San Francisco on April 12.

For additional reporting on cap-and-trade frees, click here.

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