California Hi-Speed Rail enters track design phase

California Hi-Speed Rail enters track design phase

The California High-Speed Rail Authority (CHSRA) have announced a significant step forward in its efforts to bring the nation's first 220 mph electrified high-speed rail system into operation. The Authority's Board of Directors has approved the release of a Request for Qualifications (RFQ) to industry for design services for track and overhead contact systems (OCS) for the initial 171-mile passenger service connecting Merced to Bakersfield.

"Today's approval marks a crucial milestone in our journey to deliver high-speed rail service to Californians," stated CHSRA Board Chair Tom Richards. "This RFQ will allow us to identify the best-qualified firms to design the track and OCS for this transformative project, ensuring that we build a system that is safe, reliable, and efficient."

The RFQ is now advertised, with Statements of Qualifications (SOQs) due on January 22, 2024. The Authority anticipates Board approval, contract execution, and issuance in April 2024.

With a total contract value of up to $131.2 million, this procurement process will enable the Authority to develop high-level designs for track and systems for the 171 miles connecting Merced to Bakersfield. This includes detailed designs for the 119-mile stretch currently under active construction within that Central Valley segment.

Alongside the track designs, the supporting track structure, including OCS, track cable containment, track ducts, fencing and drainage will also be designed.

This RFQ follows the Authority's progress in advancing its trainsets procurement, initiated in August. In October 2022, the Authority decided to let a previous RFQ for procurement of a track and systems contractor expire due to the prevailing economic climate, supply-chain challenges, and 40-year high inflation.

Since then, the Authority has developed a new procurement strategy, incorporating extensive industry feedback and adapting to program requirements. The track and OCS design services contract represents a critical component of this new strategy. To date, the Authority has generated over 11,000 construction jobs.

The Authority has commenced efforts to extend the 119 miles under construction to 171 miles of double track electrified high-speed rail from Merced to Bakersfield.

Over 25 active construction sites are currently operational in California's Central Valley, and the Authority has environmentally cleared 422 miles of the high-speed rail program stretching from the Bay Area to the Los Angeles Basin.

Photo Credit: iStock


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