US railway plans also include High-Speed lines. The California project will connect San Francisco with Los Angeles; and the Northeast corridor, linking Boston, New York, Philadelphia, Baltimore and Washington.
In relation to High Speed, the California project (1,287 km) that will connect San Francisco and Los Angeles in 2029 in its first phase is the only project of its kind in the country under construction right now. Currently (June 2015) the fourth section (22 miles) of infrastructure construction in the Central Valley is being tendered, and there is Spanish presence in three of the five pre-qualified teams (Ferrovial Agroman, FCC and Corsán Covián and ACS/Dragados). Construction on the section 1 is already underway, and sections 2 and 3 (tendered as a single package) were won by a consortium of ACS/Dragados and its subsidiary Flatiron and the local constructor Shimmick, on the construction side, and Sener and Typsa (among others) on the engineering side.
“The state governor, Jerry Brown, who strongly supports the project, has spent $ 500 million from the 2015 – 2016 budget In this project, and there are also funds allocated by the federal government. However, the project is far from having sufficient funding to cover the $ 69,000 M which is expected to cost,” says Maria Jesus Fernandez.
Today it takes six to eight hours by car. Plane is an hour. But this line will enable reaching the South, San Diego, near the border with Mexico, in less than three hours and will have a total of 24 stations.
On January 6th, construction of the High Speed network In California officially began with a ceremony at the future station Fresno. Despite having already started works, there is controversy surrounding the project expenditure, which is a strong opposition primarily in rural communities through which the route passes without stopping. Some GOP members have pledged to stop the project if they govern.
The High Speed project in California is the only proposed new line that is within the federal program. It is estimated to begin operations in 2029 with trains capable of running at more than 220 mph (350 km/h).
In April 2012 the California High-Speed Rail Authority (CHSRA, state agency for planning, design, construction and operation of the network) submitted a new version of the draft proposing a more incremental approach method for its realisation, combining building new sections and measures to modernize the existing infrastructure. Access to San Francisco will be in Caltrain commuter tracks, to be electrified by the CHSRA. This project is currently under bidding with Spanish participation. When completed, both commuter and High Speed will circulate on the same tracks.
In July 2012, the California Senate approved $2,600 M for the start of the first works on the first section of the project (Fresno-Merced, 130 miles). At the moment, a total of about $3,800 M have to be invested in the project, with no planned new investments to date for next year. In fact, the federal government said that it will not approve new investments until an intense viability plan is made.
The forecast foresees 117 million passengers a year in 2030, with a relatively low passenger per mile cost, with a one-way fare of $55.
Signalling and communications
The installation of a sophisticated signalling system and communication is in the early planning stages. One proposal is the installation of intruder alarms, which would be linked to a central control system that can detect foreign objects on the tracks. The signal box will be able to automatically stop the train if necessary.
The Authority began works on the Initial Operating Section (IOS) of High Speed rail in the Central Valley in 2013. The start of HS rail in the Central Valley will generate over 20,000 jobs per year for five years in an area that has one of the highest unemployment rates in the nation.
This High Speed project has been divided into five steps:
Step 1 – Initial immediate benefits for state-wide investments.
In 2013, preliminary works began on building the infrastructure of high-speed rail in the Central Valley between Madera and Fresno, continuing to Bakersfield until the first IOS segment. Once completed, the San Joaquin rail service -the fifth most used Amtrak line with one million passengers per year- will begin using the new tracks in 2018 to reduce travel time between Northern and Southern California..
Step 2 – Initial High Speed Rail Operations. The next step completes the 300-mile section from Merced to San Fernando Valley and provides High- Speed service for passengers. The service for passengers will be launched in 2022.
Step 3 – Electrified system from the Bay to the Basin. The third step connects the Central Valley with San Jose, creating a high-speed rail link from the Bay Area to Los Angeles’ Basin. The improved Metrolink system will connect San Fernando Valley with Union Station in Los Angeles. The service from the Bay to the Basin will be launched in 2027.
Step 4 – Phase 1 of the combined system. In 2029, infrastructure dedicated to high-speed running from San Fernando Valley to Union Station in Los Angeles, joining the improved Anaheim Metrolink corridor and connecting with the suburban and urban rail systems throughout the region in Los Angeles. These improvements will allow high-speed trains traveling the 520 miles between San Francisco, Los Angeles and Anaheim.
Step 5 – Phase 2 extends the rail network to Sacramento and San Diego and completes the state’s 800 miles network. On October 22nd, the CHSRA closed a round of contacts with manufacturers of High Speed railway equipment before bidding for a contract to manufacture up to 95 trains to reach speeds of 322 kilometres per hour, with a capacity of at least 450 passengers.
As indicated by CHSRA sources to Efe, a total of ten manufacturers from nine different countries participated in the bids for the construction of these trains, including the Spanish company Talgo.
When completed, the California line will be the first real High Speed network in the United States, as currently the only line that receives this consideration in the country is the Northeast Corridor, which runs between Boston (Massachusetts) and Washington, DC, but only it reaches speeds of 240 mph on some sections, significantly below the standards of High Speed in the world.
A consortium, in which the Spanish Dragados, a subsidiary of ACS, participates, has been selected as the best bid for the California rail authority to build the second section. The contract is for the design and construction of the 104 kilometres between the towns of North Bakersfield and Fresno in California’s Central Valley. This is the first contract awarded to a Spanish company on a project that stands out as the largest civil infrastructure in the United States.
The estimated cost of the work is between $1,230 M. The project crosses three counties in the agricultural heartland of California (Fresno, Tulare and Kings). It includes approximately 36 changes of level that will require the construction of viaducts, tunnels and bridges.
Spanish companies also participated in the tender for the first package, which occupied three of the five finalists via their participation in various consortiums and offering much higher performance rates: Dragados (1,085 million dollars), Ferrovial and Acciona (1,365 million) and Comsa (1.537 million). Three of them reached the end, and the three with Spanish companies. In one was Dragados, OHL in another one and Ferrovial in the third one. The three companies were left out in the first contest, a section of 46 kilometres between the towns of Madera and Fresno, which are already under construction.