The cost of California's proposed high-speed rail system would drop by $30 billion from earlier estimates under a revised business plan released Monday morning, April 2.
The plan, which the California High-Speed Rail Authority's board of directors plans to discuss April 12, commits to building the system through a "blended" design under which high-speed rail and Caltrain would share two tracks on the Peninsula. It also calls for early investment in the northern and southern segments of the San Francisco-to-Los Angeles line, even though construction is still slated to begin in the Central Valley.
The rail authority's previous business plan had pegged the cost of the system at about $98.5 billion, far higher than initial estimates of about $40 billion. California voters had approved a $9.95 billion bond for the project when they approved Proposition 1A in 2008.
"The benefits of investing in high-speed rail will be delivered far cheaper than previously estimated," the revised business plan states. "Through the adoption of a blended approach, the Authority has confidence that the cost of delivering the San Francisco-to-Los Angeles/Anaheim system, in accordance with Proposition 1A performance standards, is reduced by almost $30 billion, now estimated at $68.4 billion."
The new plan also specifies that the first "initial operating section" of the line (the first stretch that would be used by high-speed trains) would stretch from the Central Valley to southern California. According to the new document, it would extend from near Merced to the San Fernando Valley en route to Los Angeles.
The section, the plan states, "will be transformational in creating a passenger rail nexus between one of the fastest growing regions in the state with the state's largest population center."
The rail authority has scheduled a press conference to discuss the new plan at 10 a.m. Monday.