The Central Valley: A Great Place to Start
The nation’s first 220-mph high-speed line is under construction in California’s Central Valley. It is the first big step towards achieving a San Francisco to Los Angeles trip of less than three hours.
The Central Valley is a great place to prove the power of 220-mph high-speed trains.
It is home to three major universities, 122 community colleges, six of California’s 10 largest cities, and roughly three million people.
An extensive network of trains and buses are already in place to link the line to a multitude of cities and towns throughout the state.
It is flat enough to build long stretches of 220-mph track without the tunnels needed to reach into the Silicon Valley and Los Angeles basin.
And, it's already well underway.
This Spring, the California Legislature will make a critical vote on its future. It is important that residents make it clear to Sacramento: Get it done asap.
Initial Operating Segment
The California High Speed Rail Authority has identified funding for a 171-mile segment stretching from downtown Merced to downtown Bakersfield. It is designed for electrified trains cruising at 220-mph.
New stations will be built in Merced, Fresno, Kings-Tulare and Bakersfield that will make connections to California’s extensive transit systems quick and easy.
The Merced station will be designed for cross platform transfers to Amtrak and Ace Commuter trains. (A new ACE line from Stockton to Merced is currently under construction.)
At Bakersfield a fleet of buses will make convenient connections to many destinations in the LA basin and in the High desert.
When completed, the line will slash cut times between Bakersfield and Merced in half (3h 12m vs. 1h 34m).
Then, it will boost ridership on the buses and trains that connect the line to the Bay Area and Los Angeles, by shortening all train trips between northern and southern California.
The Central Valley line, in other words, will have ripple-out effects across the entire state. It will drive up demand for all train and transit options, increase revenues, and drive down costs.
Recent estimate show that ridership and revenue will roughly double, while the state’s contribution to ongoing operating expenses will decline by $20 million a year. That savings can then be invested in better service on other routes.
These benefits—more ridership, more revenue, and lower costs—will build the political will needed to fulfill California’s long-term goal of connecting the Bay Area to L.A. by train in under 3 hours.
And construction of the line—which is scheduled to open in 2028—is already making a big impact, in part, by driving key changes to transportation policy:
• Forcing changes to outdated federal regulations. (For example, railroads can now run lighter trainsets that are safer—and start and stop faster—than heavier trains.)
• Applying international lessons to the North American environment.
• Establishing a supply chain for high-speed rail manufacturers.