californiahsl.jpgEngineers have recommended to the CHSRA board that the initial phase of construction should focus on the 106km stretch through the Central Valley between Madera and Corcoran, which will include two stations at Fresno and Hanford. This will eventually form the core of the line between San Francisco and Los Angeles, and will allow gradual expansion north towards Merced and San Jose, and south to Bakersfield.

Last month the Federal Railroad Administration decreed that economic stimulus funding and other federal grants from the 2010-11 budget must be concentrated on a single section of line in the Central Valley. The federal deadline for the completion of environmental reviews on the $US 4.15 billion project is next September, and the line will be completed in 2017.

CHSRA CEO Mr Roeland van Ark said that the Madera - Corcoran section will make the best use of the $US 4.3 billion currently available in construction funds while meeting all state and federal legal requirements.