Cost of High-Speed Rail Goes Up, Again

Updated: May 22, 2018

According to the latest business plan submitted by the California High-Speed Rail Authority, costs to complete the project have risen to $77.3 billion, and could reach $98.1 billion.

The new increase, an uptick of at least $13 billion from an estimate made two years ago, follows news that the project is enduring significant cost overruns and delays on the flat 119-mile segment through California’s Central Valley that connects economic powerhouses Wasco and Madera.

The high-cost rail project is facing significant delays, along with the cost overruns. The rail authority said the earliest the trains could operate on a partial system between San Francisco and Bakersfield would be 2029, four years behind schedule. A full system is not expected to be in operation until 2033.

The plan estimates the cost of tunneling through mountainous Southern California at anywhere from $26 billion to $45 billion, based upon “the best estimates we have to date.”

The original project sold to voters in 2008 estimated a $33 billion price tag for the entire project, with taxpayers paying for a $9 billion bond, the federal government paying about one-third of the cost, and private investors picking up one-third. To date, the federal government has promised no new funding for the project, and no private investors have come forward. (Source: Los Angeles Times, March 9.)

(Note: In calculating total waste, the most current project total and the original price sold to voters was used.)

California Tax Foundation   |   1215 K Street, Sacramento, CA 95814   |   916.441.0490   |