Biden team restores nearly $1bn in funding for California high-speed rail after Trump withdrew it

Close to $1bn ($928.6m) in US federal funding will now go to California’s high-speed rail project after the Trump administration rescinded the funding agreement in 2019.

The decision resulted from an agreement signed yesterday ending a court case brought by the State of California and the California High-Speed Rail Authority (CHSRA) over the Trump administration’s withdrawal.

"Tonight’s action by the federal government is further proof that California and the Biden-Harris Administration share a common vision – clean, electrified transportation that will serve generations to come," California governor Gavin Newsom said.

"Restoring nearly $929m in grant funding back to California’s High-Speed Rail project will continue to spur job creation, advance the project and move the state one step closer to getting trains running in California as soon as possible," he added.

In May 2019, the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) terminated the funding agreement, agreed nearly 10 years prior, claiming the CHSRA "repeatedly failed to comply" with the terms of the original agreement, and that it had "failed to make reasonable progress" on the project.

Commenting on the progress of negotiations last month, FRA deputy administrator Amit Bose struck a different tone.

"In recent months, the State has voiced a commitment to advance this pioneering project, which aligns with the Biden-Harris Administration’s priorities as well as those of the American Jobs Plan: economic opportunity, equity, and combatting climate change," he said. 

The CHSRA currently has 119 miles of track under construction at 35 sites within three construction packages.

Carrying out the work are design-build contractors Tutor-Perini/Zachry/Parsons, Dragados-Flatiron/Joint Venture, and California Rail Builders, a joint venture of Ferrovial-Agroman West, LLC and Griffith Company.
Phase 1 of the railway will connect San Francisco to the Los Angeles basin via the Central Valley. Trains travelling at more than 200mph would complete the journey in under three hours. Phase 2 will branch out to Sacramento and San Diego.

The CHSRA hopes to start testing the electrified system in 2025, certify trains by 2027 and put trains in service by the end of this decade.

Image: Artist’s impression of the high-speed train in California’s Central Valley (Courtesy of the California High-Speed Rail Authority)

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