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Another Slowdown for High-Speed Rail?

| November 17, 2011
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Close-up of the front of a bullet train in the station in Zurich, Switzerland.

Close-up of the front of a bullet train in the station in Zurich, Switzerland. (Photo: Thinkstock)

On Thursday, Congress delivered another blow to California’s embattled plan to build a bullet train from San Francisco to Anaheim.

House and Senate negotiators agreed to kill President Obama’s high speed rail program, which would have funneled billions of dollars for high speed rail construction.

Obama’s plan would have provided $8 billion in funding in 2012, and then an additional $53 billion over the next six years.

California is already poised to collect $3 billion in federal stimulus funds, which will help it build the first leg of the line — the much-maligned “Rail to Nowhere,” from Fresno to Bakersfield.

But in order to complete the full system from San Francisco to Anaheim, rail officials are counting on an additional $55 billion of federal money, as well as private investment.

Asked how the news from Washington affects California’s plans, High Speed Rail Authority spokeswoman Rachel Wall said the project isn’t dependent on 2012 federal funding.

“Our plan assumes no federal funding before 2014,” said Wall.

Wall said the High Speed Rail Authority will continue to work with Congress to obtain federal grants or loans beginning in 2014.

“We’re looking to federal funding in the long term, but not the near term.”

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About the Author ()

As a radio reporter for KQED Science, Amy's grappled with archaic maps, brain fitness exercises, albino redwood trees, and jet-lagged lab rats, as well as modeled a wide variety of hard hats and construction vests. Long before all that, she learned to cut actual tape interning for a Latin American news show at WBAI in New York, then took her first radio job as a producer for Pulse of the Planet. Since then, Amy has been an editor at Salon.com, the editor of Terrain Magazine, and has produced stories for NPR, Living on Earth, Philosophy Talk, and Pop Up Magazine. She's also a founding editor of Meatpaper Magazine. Reach Amy Standen at astanden@kqed.org.

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