USA: On August 26 Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger signed a bill adding financial protections to the High-Speed Train Bond Act which will Californians will vote on in the November 4 ballot.
Replacing Proposition 1 on the ballot, Proposition 1A requires a peer-reviewed financial plan before the $9·95bn of bond money is spent. PPP financing will be possible, and a limit will be imposed on the amount of bond money which can be used for items other than construction.
'Californians deserve the opportunity to vote on a high speed rail proposition that includes taxpayer protections and financial guidelines,' said Schwarzenegger. 'With these technical changes, voters can now be assured that if the bond is approved, high speed rail would be built as planned and with fiscal controls ensuring financial accountability.'
Welcoming the news, Quentin Kopp, Chairman of the High Speed Rail Authority, said 'the Governor recognizes that high-speed trains offer a sound solution which is both economically and environmentally responsible. With no operating subsidies and no new taxes, a reliable 220 mile/h [355 km/h] electric high speed train system will reduce our dependence on foreign oil by more than 12 million barrels/year and reduce greenhouse gases that cause global warming by 12 billion pounds annually.'