California High Speed Rail (CHSR) project

California High-Speed Rail (CHSR) is a publicly funded high-speed rail system under construction in the U.S. state of California. It is projected to connect the Anaheim Regional Transportation Intermodal Center in Anaheim and Union Station in Downtown Los Angeles with the Salesforce Transit Center in San Francisco via the Central Valley, providing a one-seat ride between Union Station and San Francisco in 2 hours and 40 minutes, a distance of 380 miles (612 km).

It’s the most expensive railway in the country, at US $89m per mile. Construction kicked off in 2015, and the finish of the first phase should have passengers moving in 2025, with subsequent portions opening in 2029. California High-Speed Rail Authority (CHSRA) plans to operate on dedicated, grade-separated tracks for the entirety of its route between San Jose and Burbank with speeds of up to 220 miles per hour (354 km/h), with early ridership projections for the San Francisco to Los Angeles leg at 28.4 million per year.

The San Francisco–San Jose and Los Angeles–Anaheim sections will be shared with local trains in a “blended system”. The project is owned and managed by the state of California through the California High-Speed Rail Authority (CHSRA). The Bakersfield to Los Angeles segment would be the first instance of a direct passenger train route between the cities since the termination of the Southern Pacific Railroad’s San Joaquin Daylight in 1971.

Also Read: CHSRA releases EIR for California High-Speed Rail, Bakersfield to Palmdale section

The CAHSRA was established by an act of the California State Legislature and tasked with presenting a high-speed rail plan to the voters. This plan, Proposition 1A, was presented to and approved by voters in 2008 and included a US $9bn bond to begin construction on the initial leg of the network. Construction began in 2015 after a groundbreaking ceremony in Fresno.

The ARRA funding agreement, which CAHSR intends to use to build the Central Valley segment, specifies a completion date of December 31, 2022, and the 2018 draft Business Plan calls for opening the initial operating segment between San Jose Diridon station and Bakersfield in 2027. The complete first phase between San Francisco and Anaheim is expected in 2033. Phase 2 extensions to Sacramento and San Diego are still in the planning stages.

Project costs

Project costs have escalated significantly from an initial estimate of US $33.6bn in 2008 for the Anaheim to San Francisco section according to the 2008 business plan, and a US $40bn total figure given to voters whose approval was sought in 2008. The 2008 business plan proposed a 2028 completion date for Phase 1 and a one-way fare of $55 from Los Angeles to San Francisco.

In 2012 the Authority re-estimated the project’s cost at US $53.4bn ($2011) or US $68.4bn (YOE). Federal funds are dependent upon rail service, though not necessarily high-speed, starting on operational rails by December 2022. In 2018 the Authority pushed estimated costs to between US $63.2bn and US $98.1bn (YOE) and delayed initial service to 2029, with Los Angeles to San Francisco service in 2033. However, environment reviews for the entire San Francisco to Anaheim route would continue. The cost for Bakersfield to Merced is US $12.4bn.

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