Tampa, Florida, was chosen as the location for the announcement because
the city will become one of the first in the country to be served by
high-speed rail. $US 1.25 billion has been allocated to the
construction of a 135km line between Tampa and Orlando in the first
phase of a network that will eventually link Pensacola, Tallahassee and
Jacksonville in the north with Tampa, Fort Lauderdale and Miami in the
south. The line will be built for 270km/h operation.

More than a
quarter of the funds will go to California, which will receive an
initial $US 2.25 billion towards the cost of the Anaheim - Los Angeles
- San Francisco high-speed line. California High-Speed Rail Authority
said yesterday ground-breaking could take place as early as next year
on the 836km line, which will be completed by 2020.

$US 1.1 billion
has been allocated to the upgrading of the Chicago - St Louis corridor
for 177km/h operation, including track improvements, signalling
upgrades, and implementation of Positive Train Control (PTC).

Wisconsin, $US 810 million will be invested in a new service linking
Milwaukee with Brookfield and Madison, which will be launched by 2013,
while the Milwaukee - Chicago line will also be upgraded, which will
eventually allow journey times to be reduced by 30%. Funding will also
be provided for a study into similar improvements on the Madison -
Minneapolis/St Paul line.

$US 590 million has been allocated to
infrastructure improvements on the Seattle - Portland Cascade Corridor,
while Ohio will receive $US 400 million for track upgrades, grade
crossing separations, new stations and maintenance facilities.

projects are being funded through the American Recovery and
Reinvestment Act (ARRA), the United States' fiscal stimulus package. In
total 31 states will benefit from long-awaited investment in passenger
rail and in addition to those listed above, many other corridors will
also receive funding.

"Through ARRA we are making the largest
investment in infrastructure since the interstate highway system was
created," said Obama speaking in Tampa yesterday. "That investment is
how we can break ground across the country, putting people to work
building high-speed rail lines, because there is no reason why Europe
or China should have the fastest trains when we can build them right
here in America."

Such was the pent-up demand for funding that
states submitted more than $US 55 billion in proposals for the $US 8
billion that has been awarded. A further $US 1 billion per year will be
made over the next five years in the federal budget, which is described
as a "down-payment to jump-start the programme".
Photo: California's high-speed plans have been given a major boost through ARRA funding