After enduring a series of financial and logistical hiccups, California’s landmark high-speed rail project has become increasingly unpopular among voters, as the project’s enormous price tag continues to inflate and as the state’s budgetary woes grow more severe.
Without a concrete plan for funding, supporters of the state’s high-speed rail project pitched a revised proposal in April to lawmakers and the general public. Due to severe budget constraints, the updated plan narrowed the scope of the project while speeding up construction to save money. Furthermore, about $1 billion in voter-approved bonds will be available to revamp existing tracks, which will purportedly make rail service more efficient and potentially bring in more customers. In a previous article, The New American reported on the revised proposal:
The newly minted plan expedites completion of the first true U.S. high-speed rail system, moving it to 2028, trimming the project timeline by five years and shaving $30 billion off the original budget drafted last year by the California High-Speed Rail Authority. In 2008, when residents first voted to authorize the bonds, they were told the overall cost of the project would be $45 billion — and four years later, the total became $98 billion. The new proposal has reduced that number to $68.4 billion, still $23.4 billion more than the original total.
However, despite the purported cost savings, the rail system still relies heavily on shaky federal funding and speculative private-sector investments. "We've seen numbers in the $30 billion, $40 billion, the $90 billion range, and now we're back in the $60 billion range," Sen. Joe Simitian (D-Palo Alto) said at the time. "I think there is understandably both some confusion and skepticism about what is the system going to cost, and then there's the question of where is the money going to come from?"
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Photo: modern express train and classic trains inside the station via Shutterstock