The new plan does not cut Anaheim out of the picture, Simmens said.
The High-Speed Rail Authority recently agreed to invest about $1 billion in rail improvements in Southern California. Those previously had been described as upgrades that would lay the groundwork for what eventually would become part of the high-speed rail system (E&ENews PM, April 2). Simmens said those improvements will make for a better ride between Los Angeles and Anaheim.
Passengers who take the bullet train to Los Angeles and want to continue south to Orange County under the revised plan, however, will have to change trains. Amtrak and commuter rail line Metrolink currently connect the two cities, which are about 30 miles apart.
"What we are doing is we're moving from in the draft plan what was a one-seat ride to Anaheim to a transfer in Los Angeles," Simmens said. "So you're going to have superior improvements in that section, but you're going to have to get off the train in Los Angeles and transfer to the train to get to Anaheim.
"We could save $6 billion by giving better service from Los Angeles to Anaheim but not doing $6 billion worth of improvements that in a lot of instances the local leadership down there, particularly the Orange County Transportation Authority did not want," Simmens added.
Harkey disputed the accuracy of that description, saying that the bullet train agency wanted to put a positive spin on the change. The High-Speed Rail Authority lacks credibility, she said, because it "has been misleading the public for years." Adding Anaheim later
A $184 million transportation center is planned in Anaheim for high-speed rail, Harkey said, adding "there's really major disappointment here."
That new transportation center will provide service to commuter line Metrolink, buses and shuttles and "is being built to accommodate future high-speed rail," said Joel Zlotnik, spokesman for the Orange County Transportation Authority (OCTA).
OCTA has not yet discussed the High-Speed Rail Authority's plan to remove Anaheim from the electrified bullet train route, Zlotnik said. He also said that OCTA had never stated a position on a high-speed rail line that would have been on a separate, electrified track. OCTA in March approved a resolution that supported the "blended" approach of sharing existing track, he said.
High-speed rail could come to Anaheim in the future, Simmens said.
"We want to continue to encourage leaders in Orange County to continue to work with us to help make high-speed rail in Orange County a reality," Simmens said.
Asked what would need to happen for Anaheim to be added and whether it was an issue of finding the money, Simmens said that "we'll work with them however they want to make this a reality."