California approves high-speed rail

The California State Senate has given the go-ahead to a high-speed rail line between San Francisco and Los Angeles – the first dedicated high-speed system in the country.

The California bullet train project was passed by a closely fought 21-16 vote on Friday, June 6.

California High-Speed Rail Authority Board chairman Dan Richard said in a statement: “Today’s vote to commence high-speed rail construction, like all major public policy decisions, is the result of hard work and collaborative effort.

“Credit must go to Governor Brown whose courage and steadfast leadership has improved the High-Speed Rail Authority’s plans and operations.

“We also express deep gratitude to Assembly Speaker John Perez and Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg for passing this measure through their houses. The Legislature’s action sets in motion a statewide rail modernisation plan for California.”

The overall cost of the project is estimated at $68 billion.

The bill authorises the first 130-mile stretch of the line from Madera to Bakersfield, which will be funded using an $8 billion combination of government bonds and public money.

“Not only will California be the first state in the nation to build a high-speed rail system to connect our urban centers, we will also modernise and improve rail systems at the local and regional level,” said Governor Brown.

“This plan will improve mobility for commuters and travellers alike, reduce emissions, and put thousands of people to work, while enhancing our economic competitiveness.”

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