California’s High Speed Rail Phasing Plan

A map of California's planned segments of high-speed line.

Segments of 220-mph high-speed line will be coordinated with California’s extensive network of trains and buses.

Boosting an Already Robust Network

California is taking the Integrated Network Approach to its high-speed rail system – meaning that segments of high-speed line will be added to the state’s already robust network of trains and buses over time.

California has an extensive network of feeder buses are timed to meet the state’s three Amtrak routes at many stations, with passengers using a single ticket for both parts of the trip. Commuter rail and local bus networks extend the reach to most of the state.

An innovative state rail plan is being used to coordinate actions of the California High Speed Rail Authority and many transit agencies as each part of the plan is developed.

As a coordinated network, every segment, high-speed, conventional and bus, will see a big boost in ridership, transforming the travel throughout the state.

Individual segments of high-speed line are designed to take advantage of and enhance this network.

High-speed rail stations will be built to make transferring between high-speed trains, conventional trains and feeder buses quick and easy.


The Segments

Just as the Interstate Highway network was built in segments over several decades, California’s high speed rail network will be built in segments.

The timing of those segments is driven in large part by mountain ranges and funding availability.

The Central Valley and Silicon Valleys segments are under construction.

The planning and environmental documents for the remaining segments are expected to be approved this year. Then, the state can seek additional funds to expedite construction of the remaining sections.

Here is a quick overview of each segment and its status.

The California High Speed Rail Authority has a more in-depth overview of the segments on its website

CA Phasing Map

Central Valley: Bakersfield – Fresno – Merced

Under Construction

The first, 170-mile segment of high-speed line—the backbone of the whole system—is now being built in the Central Valley. It is the best place to demonstrate the power of high-speed trains. Its opening will be coordinated with improvements to existing passenger rail and feeder bus networks.

Click here to learn more

Caltrain Electrification: San Francisco – San Jose

Under Construction

Existing Caltrain service from San Jose to San Francisco will be electrified and upgraded, which will allow high-speed trains to share tracks with new, high-performance commuter trains.

Click here to learn more

Los Angeles Urban Mobility Corridor: Burbank – Los Angeles – Anaheim

Environmental approval underway

This segment, like CalTrain to the north, will be built to host both electrified commuter trains and high-speed trains. Unlike CalTrain, this is a busy freight corridor and separate freight tracks will need to be constructed. There is growing support for finding funding for this segment asap.

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Pacheco Pass, closing the northern gap: San Jose – Merced

Environmental approval underway

Connecting the Central Valley directly to Silicon Valley and San Francisco will require tunneling through the mountain range that separates them. (The Pacheo Pass, which is the route that runs through that mountain range, does not currently have railroad tracks.) The northern point of this construction will be San Jose.

In the interim, additional departures can be added to a connecting Amtrak bus that will begin operating in the spring of 2020.

Tehachapi Crossing, closing the southern gap: Bakersfield – Palmdale

Environmental approval underway

The Tehachapi Mountains pose a major barrier to creating a north-south passenger rail connection, a glaring missing piece of the California network. Freight trains cross the mountains on the famed Tehachapi Loop, a slow but busy single-track railroad that lacks the capacity for passenger trains. So, an extensive network of buses connects Bakersfield to cities throughout the Los Angeles area and the High Desert. These buses can be enhanced until the moutain crossing can be constructed.

Antelope Valley: Palmdale – Burbank

Environmental approval underway

The California High Speed Rail Authority is studying several options for this challenging section, which will be shared by the Los Angles – San Francisco and Los Angeles – Las Vegas routes. All options involve extensive tunneling. Metrolink’s Antelope Valley line could be upgraded as an interim solution.

Virgin Rail: Las Vegas – Victorville

Ready for construction

Brightline West is poised to begin construction on the first segment of a high-speed line to Las Vegas. The initial design was developed by a major casino owner and gained environmental clearance in 2009.

Brightline has made several design changes that require further review. It is expected that the new Las Vegas station will be built near McCarren Airport as part of a hotel and casino complex.

Many busy highways from the LA Basin and other points converge at Victorville on their way to Las Vegas. A convenient and attractive station will attract drivers wanting to avoid the unpredictable drive on I-15. Rail passengers will have the added bonus of checking into their hotels, getting their room keys and leaving their luggage at the Victorville station. The luggage will be delivered to their room. That way they can go straight to the casino or meeting without stopping at the hotel.

Also, feeder buses will meet the train at either end to extend the service beyond.

Virgin Rail: Victorville – Palmdale

Design work and environmental documents underway

Brightline is designing an extension from Victorville to Palmdale where it could connect with the Metrolink Antelope Valley line and the Los Angeles – San Francisco high-speed line when it is built.

Inland Empire: Los Angeles – San Diego

The California High Speed Rail Authority will begin designing new high-speed line linking Los Angeles and San Diego via the Inland Empire as construction wraps up on the Los Angeles – San Francisco trunk.

In the interim, substantial upgrades to Amtrak, Metrolink and Coaster routes are planned.

Sacramento – Stockton

A new high-speed line will be designed as construction wraps up on the Los Angeles – San Francisco spine.

In the interim, negotiations are underway to electrify a secondary Union Pacific line between Sacramento and Stockton to allow for high-frequency ACE commuter trains and high-speed trains, similar to CalTrain.

Stockton – Merced

A new high-speed line will be designed as construction wraps up on the Los Angeles – San Francisco spine.

In the interim, the Union Pacific is being upgraded to extend ACE commuter rail from Stockton to Merced. The Stockton – Ceres segment is under construction now.

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