The Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) confirmed on May 16 that it has terminated a 2010 agreement and withdrawn $US 928.6m in grant funding for the Central Valley section of the route. The FRA issued a Notice of Intent to withdraw the grant in March.

“FRA finds that CHSRA has repeatedly failed to comply with the terms of the FY10 Agreement and has failed to make reasonable progress on the project,” the FRA said in a statement. “Additionally, California has abandoned its original vision of a high-speed passenger rail service connecting San Francisco and Los Angeles, which was essential to its applications for FRA grant funding. FRA continues to consider all options regarding the return of $US 2.5bn in American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) funds awarded to CHSRA.”

California governor Mr Gavin Newsom confirmed the state will launch a legal challenge in a bid to overturn the termination. “The Trump administration’s action is illegal and a direct assault on California, our green infrastructure, and the thousands of Central Valley workers who are building this project,” he says. “Just as we have seen from the Trump administration’s attacks on our clean air standards, our immigrant communities and in countless other areas, the Trump administration is trying to exact political retribution on our state. This is California’s money, appropriated by Congress, and we will vigorously defend it in court.”

The FRA’s decision to terminate the 2010 grant followed Newsom’s announcement in February that the project would be scaled back to just the Merced - Bakersfield Central Valley section due to spiralling costs and poor project oversight.