High Speed Rail Has Private Sector Interest

[Editor’s Note: An earlier version of this story was based around consideration of the interested parties as financial backers. In actuality, those who submitted interest in response to this request are focused around the design, construction, operation and funding aspects of California HSR.]

The California High-Speed Rail Authority has received over 1,000 responses from private investors and vendors in response to their Request for Expressions of Interest, which closed on March 16th. A wide variety of businesses, including entrepreneurs, construction firms, and multinational corporations submitted, in writing, their desire to help develop California’s high-speed rail project.

The responses covered design, construction, and operation of the proposed Central Valley line, as well as the large scale system that would run from L.A. to the Bay Area. Those interested in helping fund the project include, unsurprisingly, Amtrak, as well as Alstom Transportation, the construction company Skanska, and Virgin Rail.

EuroStar

image via EuroStar

The California High Speed Rail Authority started in 2008, and since then has released several business reports about the viability of the state’s aspirations. The ultimate goal of the organization is build an 800 mile train system that stretches from the Bay Area through Fresno and Los Angeles to San Diego. Construction is first set to begin building a rail system from San Francisco to Anaheim and L.A. sometimes in 2012. The cost of the first phase is estimated to be $43 billion.

Last year, we reported on the initial developments of California’s high speed rail project, and since then trains have been getting more and more attention in the media. Part of the recent chatter about high speed trains comes from President Obama’s State of the Union pledge to provide rail access to 80% of Americans. That plan, however, may be nothing more than a dream in light of recent GOP moves to cut spending in renewable energy at the federal level. Progress is also being halted at the local level too, with newly-elected Florida Governor Rick Scott refusing $2.4 billion in funds to develop a high speed rail system in his state.

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Aaron Colter is a freelance writer and marketing consultant in Portland, Oregon. A graduate of Purdue University, he has worked for the NCAA, Dark Horse Comics, Willamette Week, AOL, The Huffington Post, Top Shelf Productions, DigitalTrends, theMIX agency, SuicideGirls, EarthTechling, d'Errico Studios and others. He is also the co-founder of BananaStandMedia.com, a free record label, recording studio, and distribution service for independent musicians.

    • MV mike

      It’s 1000 inquiries from vendors, not investors. Since CHSR needs private investors to take on some of the construction cost, I hope they are talking to Virgin and Berkshire Hathaway, both of which have experience in rail.

      • Nino Marchetti

        A good point. Story modified to read investors and vendors.

      • Michael

        According to the CAHSR Authority, Virgin Rail Group has already said they’d be willing to commit “substantial resources” to the project. Also, the Japanese said earlier this year that they’d be willing to provide a loan for half of the project’s cost.

    • What is “green” about high speed rail? Why not build a chain of decent commuter rail lines instead? In North Carolina they are also discussing building a high speed rail line, but I can’t see the benefit when Amtrak is under utilized in the state.

    • skeptical

      What’s news worthy about the private sector being interested in sucking up billions of dollars of tax payer subsidies? Isn’t the private sector already benefiting from billions in government waste?