California dreamin’ no more! The first phase of funding secured, the state moves forwards with its high speed plans. Plus, bats turn construction upside down and a tennis star makes a rail racket. All in this edition of Fast Track, our bi-weekly digest of high speed rail news articles from around the web.
- Making the High Speed Dream a Reality: An important first step in making California high-speed rail a reality was just announced. An allotment of $928 million dollars for the first phase of building means there’s enough funding for the design, engineering and construction of the first 130 miles of track. Beginning in Fresno in the fall of 2012, the project is planned to be completed in five years, and should create 100,000 new jobs. What should be considered a victory for high-speed rail in California, some locals may think differently… Read about these latest developments.
- High-Speed Rail Gains Steam Worldwide: The number of countries running high-speed trains is expected to nearly double over the next few years, according to new research by the Worldwatch Institute. By 2014, high-speed trains will be operating in nearly 24 countries, including China, France, Italy, Japan, Spain, and the United States, up from only fourteen countries today. In Europe, France continues to account for about half of all European high-speed rail travel, reaching an astounding 62 percent of the country’s passenger rail travel volume in 2008. This is due to affordable ticket prices, an impressive network and reliability. Where else in the world is rail rolling right along?
- Construction Halted Thanks to Bats that Suck: The £130 million high-speed rail link from Oxford to London has been halted thanks to… bats. Commuters were hoping for faster service between the two cities within three years, but this rare colony of creepy fellas has put a temporary stop on construction. How does one humanly move these nocturnal nuisances?
- Swiss Tennis Star Aces Rail: The Swiss Railroad recently launched an engine named for native son Roger Federer – arguably the best tennis player of all time. His smiling likeness will now adorn a special locomotive of the national railways. At a ribbon-cutting ceremony in the Basel freight yards, the 16-time major champion rode the engine into the yard, and then stepped onto a platform for the ceremony. Read how this will benefit others around the world…