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California approves of US$1.6Bn bullet train

The California High-Speed Rail Authority is going forward with a potential $1.6 billion Request for Proposals process for a 30-year track and systems contract for the beleaguered and scaled-back Northern-to-Southern California bullet train project, despite previous objections from the Federal Railroad Administration. The authority issued the request to three design-build groups Dec. 19, one day after the California High-Speed Railway Authority CEO Brian Kelly said it received the FRA’s letter stating it would not approve the RFP as written. The administration raised more than one objection to the authority’s plans to issue such a large contract when it was still, according to the Federal Railroad Administration, still struggling with delays related to ongoing construction and had failed to demonstrate funding commitments for the new work. Kelly stated before the board members that the authority would reach out to the FRA to look into its concerns and discuss potential RFP changes, which mainly pertained to technical elements.

Also Read: Virgin US$4.8Bn Bullet train construction to start in 2020.

Further info about the project:

The Northern-to-Southern California bullet train will have a total cost of US$77 billion. However, soon after the Governor of California, Gavin Newsom took office last year, he temporarily put away all but the 119-mile, $10.6 billion part of the route between Bakersfield and Merced. The currents firms that are running for the project are The Weitz Company LLC, Bombardier Transportation (Global Holding) UK Limited, Fluor Enterprises Inc., Balfour Beatty Infrastructure Inc, among several others.

The track is expected to cover future track from San Jose to Bakersfield, more than half the proposed Los Angeles-to-San Francisco system. The bullet train project obtained two grants previously during the Obama administration for a total of about $3.5 billion. In early 2019, the U.S. Department of Transportation ended a 2010 grant for $929 million that had not been spent. Under the federal grants, the state has to complete 119 miles of rail structures and install the tracks in the Central Valley by 2022, but there is no requirement for electrical power, signals or a maintenance facility.


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