Get the Facts:

California High-Speed Rail
Dispel the myths about high-speed rail in California

The California High-Speed Rail Authority (Authority) is responsible for planning, designing, building and operating the first high-speed rail system in the nation. California high-speed rail will connect the mega-regions of the state, contribute to economic development and a cleaner environment, create jobs and preserve agricultural and protected lands. This high-profile project has garnered a lot of publicity, which in turn has led to speculation and rumor. When considering the impact high-speed rail has on California, it is important to separate fact from fiction.



Myth: Building High-Speed Rail Causes More Pollution Than it Will Save.


Contract requirements dictate our construction sites have significantly better air quality than the California average. Our contractors use tier 4 on- and off-road vehicles and technology to reduce nitrogen dioxide emissions.

Site emissions are 60 percent lower than the state average.

Myth: High-Speed Rail Causes Sprawl


$10 million in funding has been awarded for station area planning efforts, which will help create thriving and sustainable station area districts.

Planning among key cities creates meaningful connections and economic oportunites.

Myth: Investing Cap-and-Trade Proceeds In High-Speed Rail Has Produced No Results.


Cap-and-Trade funding has helped create $2.4 billion of activity in disadvantaged communities and more than 400 disadvantaged workers dispatched to our Construction Projects.

Of the 560 small businesses participating in the high-speed rail program, 180 are located in disadvantaged communities. There are already more than 4,500 workers on site building high-speed rail.

Myth: High-Speed Rail will be a drain on the power grid.


High-Speed Rail will run on electricity supplied entirely from renewable sources.

The Authority is committed to using 100 percent renewable energy to operate our trains and facilities.

Myth: High-Speed Rail Does Nothing to Reduce Greenhouse Gas (GHG) Emissions Now.


At this very moment rail crossings throughout northern and southern California are being upgraded or eliminated. This reduces traffic congestion, improves safety and cuts GHG emissions from idling vehicles.

A single rail crossing can cause up to 45 days of stopped traffic per year, which results in about 1,800 tons of GHG emissions annually.

Myth: California Could Make Better Transportation Investments.


At this very moment rail crossings throughout northern and southern California are being upgraded or eliminated. This reduces traffic congestion, improves safety and cuts GHG emissions from idling vehicles.

A single rail crossing can cause up to 45 days of stopped traffic per year, which results in about 1,800 tons of GHG emissions annually.


Myth: High-speed rail will be a train to nowhere.


Phase 1 of the California high-speed rail system will connect 6 of the 10 largest cities in the state.

Myth: No one rides trains anymore.


Other countries with high-speed rail systems service 1.6 billion passengers per year.

Amtrak’s California corridors are among the busiest in the nation, with 5.7 million Californians riding trains last year.

Myth: High-speed rail will not be high-speed.


In blended/shared corridors, trains will be slowed to 110 miles per hour, as required by regulations.

However, in other areas speeds will top 220 miles per hour.

Myth: California High-Speed Rail will be diesel-powered.


High-speed rail in California will run on 100% renewable energy.

It will be all electric all the time.

Myth: High-speed rail is a solution in search of a problem.


California’s population is projected to grow to more than 50 million by 2060. $28 billion is lost each year in time and wasted fuel due to traffic congestion.

Los Angeles, San Francisco and San José already rank among the top five most gridlocked cities in the nation.

Merced-Fresno-Bakersfield Line

Myth: High-speed rail is dead in California.


In his State of the State Address, Governor Gavin Newsom reaffirmed our commitment to the building block approach laid out in our Project Update Report, beginning with the Merced to Fresno to Bakersfield line.

We continue to make strides on construction in the Central Valley while moving forward with systemwide environmental clearance and planning in Northern and Southern California.

Myth: No one is going to ride high-speed rail if it’s just in the Central Valley.


The 171-mile line from Merced to Fresno to Bakersfield connects the three largest cities in California’s Central Valley, a region of about 3 million people.

That’s more people than 15 states currently have (Wyoming, Vermont, Alaska, North Dakota, South Dakota, Delaware, Rhode Island, Montana, Maine, New Hampshire, Hawaii, Idaho, West Virginia, Nebraska, New Mexico). It will also connect three major California universities and 122 community colleges in the region.

Myth: There’s no way to get from the Central Valley to San Francisco or Los Angeles.


As part of the statewide rail modernization plan, high-speed rail will become the backbone of rail transportation in California.

It will allow for convenient connections including the Altamont Corridor Express service in Merced which will soon have service to San Jose and the east Bay Area, the Amtrak San Joaquin service to Oakland and Sacramento, and connections from Bakersfield to Southern California.

Myth: High-speed rail is just a jobs program.


High-speed rail is creating jobs and stimulating California’s economy, but that’s only part of the story.

There are currently 21 active construction sites spanning 119 miles from north of Fresno to north of Bakersfield, and work has been completed at State Route 99 and the Tuolumne Street Bridge in Fresno.

Myth: High-speed rail has given up on San Francisco and Los Angeles.


Our recommendation is not a Central Valley line instead of a Valley-to-Valley — it is a Central Valley line first while we seek more funds and work to environmentally clear the entire 520 miles of Phase 1.

The Authority is committed to bookend investments in both Northern and Southern California and completion of environmental work for the length of the San Francisco to Los Angeles/Anaheim corridor. We remain committed to investments including the Caltrain Electrification Project in Northern California and Link US at Los Angeles Union Station.

The California High-Speed Rail Authority makes every effort to ensure the website and its contents meet mandated ADA requirements as per the California State mandated Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 2.0 Level AA standard. If you are looking for a particular document not located on the California High-Speed Rail Authority website, you may make a request for the document under the Public Records Act through the Public Records Act page. If you have any questions about the website or its contents, please contact the Authority at