Happening Now

NARP Urges Secretary Chao to Support High-Speed Rail in California

February 15, 2017

Release #17-04

For Immediate Release (#17-04)

Contact: Robert Brady – (202) 680-4951

Washington, D.C. — On February 9th, 2017, NARP President and CEO Jim Mathews wrote to Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao urging the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) to support the California High-Speed Rail (CAHSR) project. In the letter, Mathews highlighted the CAHSR project as “a vital element of critical transportation infrastructure investment in the U.S.,” that will generate economic benefits, create jobs, and help eliminate carbon emissions for years to come.

“With 119 miles of active construction already underway, the Los Angeles - San Francisco corridor is the most advanced attempt to bring express high-speed rail to the U.S.,” Mathews wrote regarding the $64 billion CAHSR project. “Even in its early stages, there is already evidence that CAHSR is spurring economic development, improving performance on environmental and energy-independence goals and creating jobs.”

Through its development and beyond, Mathews stressed that the project is estimated to generate “a total economic return to the state of California of about $8 billion on its initial $2.6 billion investment, and the economic development that will take place along the routes will add dramatically to that tally. The project will create 66,000 new jobs for 15 years as this massive system is built. Each year, the high-speed train will eliminate at least 330,000 metric tons of CO2 emissions.”

“As surely as mobility fuels an economic engine, congestion constrains it,” said Mathews. “Investing in high-speed rail is one of the most cost-effective ways to ensure long-term growth by definitively easing congestion—not just for the intercity market, but for transit and commuter services as well.”

Development of the high-speed rail line, aimed at operating trains at up to 200 mph, has already seen CAHSR invest about $2.3 billion into the planning and construction of the rail system. Once completed, the 21st century system will connect 24 station over 800 miles in California between San Diego and Sacramento, with its initial leg connecting San Francisco and Los Angeles. The line will also help reduce traffic and travel time, while increasing safety, for Californians on the state’s congested highways.

Mathews also stressed that if the CAHSR project halts, it’s estimated that between $158 billion and $272 billion will be spent instead on at least 4,300 miles of new highway, 115 new airport gates and four additional major-airport runways to cope with population growth in the state – the sixth-largest economy in the world.

The full letter to Secretary Chao can be read online at www.NARPRail.org.

About the National Association of Railroad Passengers

NARP is the only national organization speaking for the nearly 40 million users of passenger trains and rail transit. We have worked since 1967 to expand the quality and quantity of passenger rail in the U.S. Our mission is to work towards a modern, customer-focused national passenger train network that provides a travel choice Americans want. Our work is supported by more than 28,000 individual members nationwide.