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California’s High Speed Rail Authority releases business plan, cost estimates shoot up to nearly $100 billion

An example of a bullet train in Beijing, China.
An example of a bullet train in Beijing, China.

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To all those Californians waiting to jump on board the proposed San Francisco-to-Anaheim bullet train: get ready to wait even longer. The California High-Speed Rail Authority revealed in its most recent business plan that construction for the project will cost approximately $98.5 billion, more than double the last estimate, which was $43 billion. The timeline of the project has been expanded as well, and the original goal of 2020 is now being replaced with that of 2033.

The main reason for these drastic jumps in price and time is that the authority is attempting to factor in for the cost of inflation. This variable was not taken into account for the last two released plans, which were attacked by opponents and supporters alike for offering unrealistic expectations.

The authority hopes to break ground next year. It is looking for approval from the state government for funds that could go toward construction, as well as different pricing models and alternate routes to lower costs.


In a time when federal funding is completely out of the picture, how will a project of this magnitude gain support? Is it economically feasible? If this bullet train existed, would Californians use it in substantial numbers anyway? Are you waiting for the train to leave the station, or do you think it should be canceled all together?


Adrian Moore, vice president of policy at Reason Foundation and; co-author of a 2008 Reason Foundation study that predicted this massive increase in the price of high-speed rail; 2008 and 2009 served on Congress' National Surface Transportation Infrastructure Financing Commission; co-author of the book “Mobility First: A New Vision for Transportation in a Globally Competitive 21st Century”

Daniel Krause, executive director, Californians For High Speed Rail, a grassroots, statewide coalition of high speed rail supporters advocating for the high speed rail project approved by California voters in November 2008