The contract covers the 48.3km Madera - Fresno portion of the 209km Initial Operating Section (IOS) Stage 1 from Madera to Bakersfield, which is due to be commissioned in 2017.

The joint venture was selected as preferred bidder in June, when the CHSRA board voted unanimously in favour of accepting the bid, which was the lowest of five submitted for the contract in January.

However, CHSRA still has to contend with a number of legal hurdles before construction can begin on IOS Stage 1. On August 16 Sacramento Superior Court ruled that CHSRA had violated the terms of Proposition 1A, the state ballot measure which authorises funding for the programme, after the local council in Kings County successfully petitioned for environmental impact assessments to be completed on the entire Madera – Bakersfield section before construction starts. The court also ruled that CHSRA needs to provide more clarity on funding arrangements for the project.