"I believe the number's coming down," Richard told a California state senate hearing. "Obviously the $US 98bn was a shock for a lot of people."

CHSRA plans to accelerate the construction schedule and share rights-of-way with state operators in the San Francisco Bay Area and Los Angeles. Richard says CHSRA will invest about $US 750m in state funds during the next few years to electrify the San Francisco - San Jose line currently used by Caltrain, and contribute a further $US 1bn for electrification in the Los Angeles area. This would allow high-speed trains to reach California's largest

cities without the need for costly new lines.

CHSRA is expected to publish a final business plan (IRJ December 2011 p6) soon that will update cost, ridership, and revenue forecasts. California's state legislator will vote in June on whether to invest $US 2.7bn

to match $US 3.3bn in federal funds to start building the initial 209km Central Valley section early in 2013.