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.”


Amy Standen

Amy Standen (@amystanden) is a radio reporter for KQED Science, where she reports on mental health and the future of medicine, among other topics. Her stories are frequently heard on NPR. She is also host of KQED’s short video series, Deep Look. Her email is and you can follow her on Twitter at @amystanden.

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