USA: At a board meeting on March 30, California High-Speed Rail Authority voted unanimously to apply for federal high speed rail funding previously allocated to Florida.

The $2·43bn grant was rejected by Florida Governor Rick Scott on February 16, effectively cancelling that state’s plan to build a 135 km line between Orlando and Tampa. Federal Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood subsequently invited bids by April 4 from other states wishing to fund inter-city passenger rail projects.

Whilst there are several plans to raise speeds for passenger services on existing alignments, CHSRA envisages building an initial section of dedicated 350 km/h line in the Central Valley to create the ‘backbone’ of a first route from San Francisco to Los Angeles and Anaheim. This would be the precursor to an eventual 1 300 km high speed network costed at $43bn.

Obtaining the federal grant, plus a 20% matching contribution from the state, would allow CHSRA to complete the starter section between Merced and Bakersfield, including stations in each respective city. It would also allow the authority to start construction of extensions north or south towards the Bay Area or the Tehachapi Mountains.

‘California has proven that it can and will lead the nation with a vision of true high speed rail’, said CHSRA Chairman Curt Pringle. ‘Every mile of track laid in the Central Valley represents another step toward realising a state-wide system to connect north and south, which will bring private investment, job creation and economic strength to California.’