News & Reviews News Wire California high speed project to receive $3.1 billion in FRA funding

California high speed project to receive $3.1 billion in FRA funding

By Trains Staff | December 6, 2023

Money will help advance San Joaquin Valley construction, purchase trainsets

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Computer rendering of California high speed rail train at dusk
A rendering of a California high speed train. A new federal grant will be used to buy the first trainsets for the California system. California High-Speed Rail Authority

WASHINGTON — The California High-Speed Rail Authority will receive about $3.1 billion for projects to continue development and construction in the San Joaquin Valley, U.S. Reps. Nancy Pelosi (D-San Francisco) and Jim Costa (D-Fresno) announced in statements on Tuesday.

The funds will come from the Federal Railroad Administration, under the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law’s Federal-State Partnership for Intercity Passenger Rail program. It is the largest single infusion of federal money into the project since it was approved by voters in 2008, KTLA-TV reports.

“California takes great pride in our ambitious status as the leading edge of high-speed rail in America,” Pelosi said in a press release.  With this new $3.07 billion in federal funding, we take an important leap closer to making high-speed rail a reality in California. An electrified high-speed rail network will dramatically improve the quality of life in the Central Valley and up and down California.” Costa, in his press release, said the grant represented a “significant investment to make major progress.”

The funds will provide for:

— Purchase of the system’s first six trainsets, as well as construction of facilities for rolling stock;

— Construction of the second track on the 119-mile segment from Madera to Poplar Avenue in Shafter;

— Construction of the station in Fresno;

— Final design, right-of-way acquisition, and utility relocation on extensions in Merced and Bakersfield beyond the initial 119-mile segment.

Announcement of the funding for the California  project came on the same day that Nevada’s senators announced $3 billion in funding for the Brightline West high speed project between Las Vegas and Southern California [see “Legislators say Brightline West will receive …,” Trains News Wire, Dec. 5, 2023].

34 thoughts on “California high speed project to receive $3.1 billion in FRA funding

  1. Just great. Another $3.1 Billion for the state of California to piss away on it’s bureaucratically-laden over priced boondoggle. They only thing this money is going to do is keep more state paper-pushers employed, and it’ll give various idiot groups more reason to sue. Meanwhile, we taxpayers get the shaft.

    As a Californian – this pisses me off.

  2. It would be nice if all us taxpayers not in Calif could stop furnishing money to that idiot Calif legislature. When this project was announced I said they would boondoggle it and they have.

  3. More money wasted by throwing it down this rat hole. I hope Trump stops all federal funding for this boondoggle. If Californians what this thing, then let them fund it themselves.

  4. At the rate they are building, $3.1 billion will get you about 31 yards.

    California officials originally stated that HSR was going to cost around $35 billion (give or take) for the whole project. They’ve spent close to $100 billion already. No segment is up and running and we still don’t know when that will be. Originally supposed to build all the way into LA & SF. Now they will build to LA & SF and upgrade existing connections into down towns. Best part, they still have to get from the Valley into LA. That means OVER, THROUGH, or UNDER the mountains. When/IF HSR is completed, my low cost estimate would be $500 billion ($1 billion a mile).

  5. @Robert Ray: One of the justifications for supporting HSR between the bay area and the LA basin is that the airport infrastructure at both ends was topping out and the expected increase in travel between the two markets was likely to require major investments in the airports themselves. So if we can off load that traffic to HSR, we can then open these airports to many more long-distance flights where HSR cannot compete. And that is exactly the approach several European countries have taken — replace short haul regional flights with HSR service.

  6. @Robert Ray: The reason to built the Bakersfield LA segment has nothing to do with the travel market. It has to do with the fact it is the toughest segment and if it can’t be built there is no use in building anything else. And if it can be built but there is no money left to build the rest of the system, you at least have filled in the missing gap in the CA passenger rail map. That is why many of think this segment should have been the first segment tackled.

  7. Howard I’m not sure where you think the Brightline project is private funded. A Trains article mentions them getting $3 billion in taxpayer money for the Vegas project and that will only be the start of more taxpayer subsidies.

  8. Charles, your dream of privately funded HSR ain’t ever gonna happen! Nobody is going to gamble their $$ competing with the other publicly funded Hwys & Aviation. Here’s an idea how about we privatize the Air Traffic Control system in this country & offer the savings as seed money to a private HSR startup? Sounds like a plan!

    1. @Galen Riley: what is your opinion on toll highways then? Many are being built with private bonds and paid back from the tolls collected. Private investment is possible, but todays investment culture in incredibly risk adverse. Railroads in the 1880’s werent even a sure thing, many went bust.

  9. The daily TV news in California showed highway overpasses being built in the middle of nowhere. Then, they ask why are these overpasses being built?
    People forget that it takes a long time to build all the overpasses to have a right-of-way without road crossings. They must come first and once they are there it’s merely connect the dots to have a finished train corridor.
    I’m sure there is government waste, heck Amtrak has given us many examples of that.

  10. You are correct Mr. Harris we do need to start somewhere all the naysayers criticize it but offer no alternatives except for Brightline who they think is future of all passenger rail! LMAO!! They’ve bellied up to the feeding trough now too with their smoke & mirrors plans & finances all doomed to fail.

    1. You start somewere with a viable plan to accomplish what you set out to do. CalHSR hasn’t done that.

      No, Galen, I give CalHSR excatly no credit, none nada, zero, zilch, for endless waste in the Central Valley with no idea how to reach the Bay Area or the LA Basin.

  11. Regarding Louis Harris’s comment:
    HSR is needed in CA and should be built. But we need to recognize that the current HSR design is wrong and that the railroad is being built in the wrong order (should have tackled Bakersfield to LA fist).
    If we are ever to get HSR in CA we need to admit our mistakes and start over with a good design (down the I5 corridor) and a meaningful construction plan.

    1. I don’t think the travel market between L.A. and Bakersfield is much larger than the travel market between Bakersfield and Merced. And why is HSR ‘needed’ in California? The airlines are faster, with forecasted lower ticket prices, and cover the market much better and with flexibility (with airports in S.F., Oakland, San Jose, and Sacramento serving the south in LAX, Orange County, Inland Empire and San Diego). Someone taking the Moonbeam Rocket south to L.A. is still going to spend another hour to get to Orange County or 2+ hours more to get to San Diego.

  12. Your exactly correct Mr. Reiter. Lots of far right rhetoric floating around on this site. They don’t like being called out. Thanks for the comment.

    1. I don’t know of any “far right” people on this forum. All of us support subsidized public transportation, including me. What does that got to do with CalHSR? CalHSR is a total waste, and as a Wiscosin resident I demand a refund of my federal taxes sunk into that corrupt pit.

    2. Simple economic analysis of a project that will not compete with existing airlines (tickets will cost more, travel times will be at least several hours longer, and with fewer options, and the taxpayers will be out over
      $ 100 billion) is hardly right wing rhetoric, it’s just simple arithmetic.

    3. The source of the Federal HSR money being “misspent” is that the Feds forced the CAHSRA to build the initial segment in the San Joaquin Valley first. It soon became clear that the portions of the Federal HSR money rewarded in 2009 and 2010 to CA (c. $5B) was never going to be enough to complete the initial SF to Anaheim segment.

      Instead they should have assumed no more federal money would be forthcoming for the foreseeable future (history has proven this) especially after the 2010 midterm elections, and used all of their funds towards building the Bakersfield to Palmdale segment over the Tehachapis to HSR standards. At least while waiting for more funding, designing the remaining route, etc. they could have let Amtrak use it. The new Charger locomotives may operate up to 125 mph. This would give us multiple LA – Bay Area frequencies and faster than the Coast Starlight.

  13. Mark Reiter your comment is wrong for this site, you need to be on Saturday Night Live. Where do you get your magic mushrooms I can use some after hearing this lala land fairy tale.

  14. How far along is this valley part of the line? Is there a fully usable track the entire length so trains could run? All needed bridges complete? Is the current track signalled? Will the trainsets be a standard product from a manufacturer or be custom built for California with high costs and an uncertain delivery date? What equipment are they using for high speed testing of the current track?
    Lots of questions – but very few answers.

  15. Something needs to happen regarding HSR in our country, and this is better than nothing. We have to start somewhere, and the fact that this may be the first true system in operation is hopeful, even though it’s sad that it’s taking us this long to figure out how to build and operate a system. Get the damn thing built! My wife and I will fly from Philly to Vegas and ride this thing, that’s for sure.

    1. Louis, when I worked in infrastructure (before retiring), we got no credit for startng projects, only for finishing them.

    2. @Howard Fine. Brightline West is not privately funded 100%. About 60% of it will be. The other 40% comes from grants from California, Nevada and the Feds.

  16. Interesting the first paragraph, we’re still dumping billions from the federal treasury into the Central Valley, with no idea how much time or money it will take to get further north or further south. It should be obvious to anyone with a single brain cell that all this work in the Central Valley is because CalHSR doesn’t have a single clue how to get to San Jose or Los Angeles.

    If Trump had been re-elected, he’d have put a stop to this. In fact, he promised to try to recoup the federal funds previously spent on this project, let alone spend more.

    How is it that we have become such a banana republic, dumping billions into a project with no clue where it’s going, or when, or even why.

    If California wants this train, let them pay 100.00% of the cost without one red cent of tax money collected in the other 49 states.

    1. Charles once you get to Bakersfield in 2035, there will be a convenient connection for a $1,000.00 Uber ride across the mountains, you are showing that your age has caused a loss of genius that the Californians have.

    2. You’re right Charles, “If Trump had been re-elected, he’d have put a stop to this. “, would have also put a stop to Democracy too. His daily rhetoric says exactly how he’s going to kill Democracy and take away freedoms we have enjoyed since our founding fathers. Yet you go ahead and believe what you want, you say “banana republic”, you haven’t even touched what #45 is going to do to transportation in this country and your freedoms. Fascism awaits you.

    3. This is a total waste of money. Janet at the Treasury is funding the government by selling some 50 % of new government debt as short term notes and bills, instead oif the historical ratio of 20 %. Why? Because there’s limited demand for long term debt sold by banana republics heading towards bankruptcy by spending like drunken sailors.

    4. Todays headline….
      “America’s national debt is currently closing in on a staggering $33.74 trillion. And according to Ray Dalio, founder of the world’s largest hedge fund, Bridgewater Associates, that number may continue to rise — quite rapidly.

      “We are at a point in which we are borrowing money to pay debt service,” he said in a recent interview with CNBC.”

      Out of control.

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