California high-speed rail costs rocket

By Chris Sleight04 November 2011

A new business plan in the US from the California High-Speed Rail Authority (CHSRA) puts the cost of building the state's proposed new rail network at between US$ 65.4 billion and US$ 74.5 billion for the first phase. The previous estimate was US$ 36.4 billion in 2010 Dollars.

This figure is for Phase 1 of the project, which comprises a 520 mile (840 km) high-speed railway route from San Francisco's Merced station to Union Station in Los Angeles and the regional Transportation Center in Anaheim.

The CHRSA's business plan said, "80% to 85% of this increase is for additional viaducts, tunnels, embankment and retaining walls/trenches directly attributable to changes in scope and alignment based on stakeholder input, environmental necessity and improved knowledge of site conditions. The remaining 15% to 20% is attributable to increases in composite unit prices."

Putting the case for high-speed rail, the CHSRA said that without it the state would have to spend as much as US$ 171 billion as the state's population grows from 38 million to 60 million by the middle of the century. This would mean an additional 2300 miles (3700 km) of highway, four runways and 115 airline gates.

Construction of the project is due to begin next year with a 130 mile (210 km) stretch from Bakersfield in California's central valley to just south of Merced. Finance for this will come from federal funds and state bonds. The CHSRA says the project is expected to create 100000 new jobs over the next five years.

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