CALIFORNIA High Speed Rail Authority voted on July 21 to develop a 1100 km network of high speed lines. Split into 12 segments, the network would link San Francisco with San Jose, Sacramento, Fresno, Bakersfield, Los Angeles and San Diego. Having defined alignments for all routes apart from Los Angeles - Bakersfield, CHSRA will now draw up a business plan that will be put to the state legislature in January.

Not that we should get too excited. The performance characteristics for the grandiose scheme are not exactly specific: double-track, fully-segregated guideways with no grade steeper than 3·5%, and a standard design of electrically-powered train able to run at 325 km/h or more. Ahead lie environmental and political hurdles of every kind, not to mention the little matter of finance. Our correspondent reports that approval from the state could pave the way for an approach to voters for a sales or fuel tax increase in a November 2000 ballot. Earliest opening date for the first segment is 2015.

HThe High Speed Ground Transportation Association has formed the SuperTrain Society ’to work to secure federal appropriations for high speed passenger rail service in corridors across America’. The society’s remit covers upgraded service with conventional trains to high speed maglev.