The Central Valley portion of California’s high speed rail project now has internal projected costs of $8 billion, based on a quarterly report — known as the funding contribution plan — that was issued in June but not made public until this month. Work on the track, originally scheduled to be finished this year, is about seven years behind schedule.
Officials have disputed outside estimates that indicate the project’s price tag is growing — including one in December by the Federal Railroad Administration that cited a cost of $9.5 billion to $10 billion. In 2015, the authority’s main consultant, WSP, also had said in an internal assessment that costs were rising.
In December 2016, an internal-use-only draft risk assessment produced by the Federal Railroad Administration was delivered to the California Rail Authority which warned that the ICS (Merced-Bakersfield) segment could cost as much as $9.5 billion instead of the $6.4 billion originally budgeted. As costs continue to rise it seems impossible that the Merced-Bakersfield will be completed for the $12.2 billion that has been raised. Some of the $12.2 billion is going to terminals in the SF bay area and Los Angeles.
The Transbay Transit Center, a 1 million-square-foot South of Market regional transportation hub is slated for completion by late 2017, but critics have said it will be a billion-dollar bus terminal if the extension to Caltrain and the bullet train doesn’t get built. The $1.5 billion shortfall could further imperil the extension. The city’s Transbay Transit Center’s funding from the High-Speed Rail Authority “will be reduced by $1.5 billion to $550 million,” citing the authority’s recently revised draft 2016 business plan.
In 2009, the Authority projected that construction of the system will create 450,000 permanent jobs through the new commuters that will use the system and that the Los Angeles-San Francisco route will generate a net operating revenue of $2.23 billion by 2023, consistent with the experience of other high-speed intercity operations around the world.
The Authority’s ridership estimates initially were unrealistically high, and have been revised several times using progressively better estimating models, including risk analysis and confidence levels. The 2014 study (at a 50% confidence level) estimated the following ridership/revenue figures:
2022 (IOS): 11.3 million riders / $625 million [will not happen, no segment completed until 2024 and not between LA and SF]
2027 (Bay to Basin): 19.1 million riders / $1055.6 million
2029 (Phase 1 initial): 28.4 million riders / $1350.4 million
2040 (Phase 1 mature): 33.1 million riders / $1559.4 million
Merced to San Fernando Valley is the initial operating section which is 300 miles long. Without at least an additional $10 billion, this will not be completed. Over $12 billion to make the 119 mile section.
Construction began in 2015. Completion of the first leg from Merced to Bakersfield was expected in 2019. A federal report estimates completion of this leg in 2024. Completion of Phase 1, San Francisco to Los Angeles is expected in 2029. Phase 2 extensions to Sacramento and San Diego are expected after that.
The bullet train linking California’s Central Valley to Silicon Valley was supposed to be running by 2022. But the deadline for the multi-billion dollar high-speed rail has now been pushed to 2025.
With help from a voter-approved bond, California managed to raise $12.2 billion for the valley-to-valley (central valley to San Jose) express train—still far below the estimated $20.7 billion cost of finalizing the project.
When California voters approved the (LA to San Francisco) project in 2008, the state said it would cost $33 billion, but it soared to $43 billion a year later.