PR – The California High-Speed Rail Authority Board yesterday authorized a study to determine the feasibility of achieving zero greenhouse gas emissions for the power needs of the 700-mile electric high-speed train system. The study, timed to be completed by June of this year, will focus on costs, potential location of facilities and partnerships with utilities for on-site production of clean energy sources.
“The proposed route of the system intersects with many of the state’s best location for wind, solar and geothermal facilities,” said Quentin Kopp, chairman of the Authority. “High-speed trains will help California meet the goals set out by the state to reduce greenhouse gas emissions; using new clean energy technologies to power the system will be an added bonus and establish California as a leader in reducing global warming while developing renewable energy sources.”
In other developments, the Authority board approved a cooperative agreement with the French Ministry to share expertise and skills learned as part of France’s TGV high-speed train system. The Authority has similar agreements with Spain and Japan. A representative from the French Ministry illustrated France’s approach of utilizing public funds for constructing the initial TGV segment and public private partnerships (P3) to fund additional segments.
The consultant team of Infrastructure Management Group, Inc. and Lehman Brothers reported that they have initiated a “Request for Expressions of Interest” for private companies interested in becoming a financial partner to construct, operate and maintain the system.
The timeline for finalizing the Program-level environmental analysis for the segment connecting the Bay Area through the Central Valley was also outlined. The Authority Board is scheduled to certify the environmental document in late May with the Federal Railroad Administration expected to issue the final Record of Decision in June of 2008.
The Board moved ahead with a feasibility study that could provide for a station serving the Visalia area between Fresno and Bakersfield.
“The City of Visalia has worked closely with the Authority to ensure that the planning of the high-speed train system corresponds with and will benefit our growing region,” said Visalia Mayor Jesus Gamboa. “I look forward to the day when high-speed train travel becomes the standard allowing our residents the opportunity to explore the state and travel for business on this efficient, clean-energy travel mode.”