In a big push to US passenger rail, President Joe Biden on Friday (8 December) announced a $3 billion investment for the first high-speed rail project to connect San Francisco and Los Angeles.
The announcement is a part of the US Department of Transportation’s Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) $8.2 billion package for 10 passenger rail projects across the country.
The California Inaugural High-Speed Rail Service Project will receive up to $3.07 billion to help deliver high-speed rail service in California’s Central Valley by designing and extending the rail line between Bakersfield and Merced, procuring new high-speed trainsets, and constructing the Fresno station, which will connect communities to urban centres in northern and southern California.
This 171-mile rail corridor will support high-speed travel with estimated speeds of 186 (or greater) miles per hour, resulting in a proposed trip time from Merced to Bakersfield in under 60 minutes.
Fuelled entirely by renewable energy, the high-speed rail line will use all-electric trainsets and feature separate passenger and freight lines, thereby benefit freight rail operations throughout California as well.
Addressing an event at the Las Vegas Carpenters International Training Center, President Biden said, "you have no idea how much this pleases me. A long last, we're building the first high-speed rail project in our nation's history, and it's starting here. It's part of the $8.2 billion investment we're making in 10 major rail projects across America, reaching tens of millions of people. We're putting high-speed rail on the fast track."
In the subsequent phases, the high-speed rail link will be expanded to ultimately link Los Angeles and San Francisco, supporting travel with speeds up to 220 mph.
"Ultimately, it's going to take folks in Los Angeles through the Central Valley all the way to San Francisco for less than 3 hours. But today, the journey can take 8 hours by bus or car. Think of how this train will transform California's Central Valley with new businesses, new residents, visitors, and economic opportunities," he said.
"This project is California's most ambitious rail project in the entire Western Hemisphere. It expects to carry 31 million passengers a year, will be 100 per cent powered by renewable energy, and once again, this project is about jobs," added Biden.
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