Funding approved for California high-speed rail
By Chris Sleight09 July 2012
California, US's Senate has voted 21-16 in favour of a bill to finance the first stage of the state's high-speed rail network. The vote will allow US$ 6.95 billion to be directed towards the first stages of the line.
A combination of federal funds and state-level debt will be used to build the first 130 mile (209 km) section of line in California's central valley between Madera and Bakersfield. Ultimately, the rail link will connect San Francisco and San Diego, via Los Angles, with a further spur line in Northern California to the state capital, Sacramento. The travel time for the 438 mile (705 km) journey between the two major cities of Los Angeles and San Francisco is expected to be 2 hours, 38 minutes, once the line is complete.
Dan Richard, chair of the California High-Speed Rail Authority said, "The Legislature's action sets in motion a state-wide rail modernisation plan for California. Not only will California be the first state in the nation to build a high-speed rail system to connect our urban centres, we will also modernise and improve rail systems at the local and regional level."
However, the project has been criticised for its high cost, put at US$ 68 billion for the entire scheme. California has a projected budget deficit for this year of US$ 16 billion, and Republican Senate member, Tony Strickland, for example, has described the plans as 'A colossal fiscal train wreck."