The approval covers construction package 2-3, the 97km stretch of the Initial Operating Section (IOS 1) between East America Avenue south of Fresno and the border between Kern and Tulare counties northwest of Bakersfield. The route largely follows the alignment of the existing BNSF line from Fresno to Bakersfield via Hanford. Five consortia have been shortlisted for construction package 2-3, and CHSRA expects to award the contract before the end of the year.

CHSRA announced on August 12 that it has awarded the US subsidiary of Arcadis, Netherlands, a contract for design and construction supervision services on construction package 2-3. The contract could be worth up to $US 71m over five years.

Construction is already underway on the northern section of the IOS between Fresno and Madera.