Politicians gather to inaugurate America’s first high-speed rail line

Construction has officially begun on the high-speed rail link that is being built between Los Angeles and San Francisco. When the $68bn project is complete, trains will travel at speeds of up to 350km/h and complete the 640km journey in less than three hours. 

Jerry Brown, the governor of California, marked the beginning of the scheme at a ceremony in the central Californian town of Fresno yesterday. Demolition work to clear the site began last summer. 

The line from Los Angeles to San Francisco is due to be completed in 2029. The project could later be extended north to Sacramento and south to San Diego. It is expected to generate 66,000 jobs a year over the next 16 years. 

The State of California has raised $9.9bn in bond financing for the scheme. The federal government will also provide funding, however the scheme will need to raise additional capital in the coming years.  

The World Bank says the price per kilometre of America’s high-speed line will be $56m, triple the cost of similar railways in China. 

The project has previously had difficulty securing funding and planning permission.

Ashley Swearengin, the mayor of Fresno at the opening ceremony (Twitter)

Speaking at the opening ceremony, where dignitaries signed a piece of rail, Ashley Swearengin, the mayor of Fresno, said: "High-speed rail brings attention and focus back to city centres. It is going to be easier for people to live in the middle of the state and do business elsewhere." 

America’s fastest rail line is presently Amtrak’s east coast Acela Express, which travels from Boston to Washington DC, passing through New York, Philadelphia and Baltimore. It has a top speed of 240km/h. 

Japan has recently announced plans to build a 380km magnetic-levitation line between Tokyo and Nagoya.

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