California High Speed Rail

WSP is the rail delivery partner for the  first high-speed rail system planned for implementation in the US and has developed  new railway standards for HSR in the country.

WSP is the rail delivery partner for the first high-speed rail system planned for implementation in the US and has developed new railway standards for HSR in the country.
One of the largest, most ambitious public transportation programs in U.S. history, the California High-Speed Rail Project will allow passengers to travel from Los Angeles to San Francisco at speeds of up to 220 miles (354 kilometers) per hour, making the trip in just 2 hours and 40 minutes, compared to almost 6 hours by automobile. The system will connect California’s megaregions, contribute to economic development and a cleaner environment, create jobs and preserve agricultural and protected lands.

Using federal and state funds, including Cap and Trade auction proceeds, the California High-Speed Rail Authority (Authority) plans to begin high-speed operations in the Central Valley by 2028, eventually connecting San Francisco to Los Angeles in under three hours at speeds of 350km/h (220mph) by 2033. Eventually, the system will extend to Sacramento and San Diego, totaling 800 miles with up to 24 stations. The Authority is also working with regional partners to implement a state-wide rail modernization plan to improve local and regional rail lines.

WSP has been helping shape high-speed rail in California from the earliest feasibility studies in the 1990s to the latest business plan in 2018. The firm is now serving as the Authority’s Rail Delivery Partner (RDP), a seven-year engagement from the planning and preliminary design phase to project delivery and operations.

The RDP role builds on the firm’s previous work as the Authority’s Program Management Team. In this earlier role, WSP coordinated the activities of more than 35 sub consultants, prepared the statewide program-level Environmental Impact Report (EIR) and Environmental Impact Statement (EIS), and produced the full suite of technical memoranda comprising 130 program-wide technical guidance documents, technical requirements, a 1,400 page design criteria manual, and standards and directives that will define the high-speed train system in California and will assist the Federal Railroad Administration in defining standards and regulations for the US market.


Representing our Client from Beginning to End

WSP is serving as the Rail Delivery Partner for the Authority, responsible for moving the California high-speed rail program from the design phase to operation. The program delivery strategy proposes advancing the planning, design and construction of multiple segments of the high-speed rail system using several funding sources. This allows to move multiple segments forward concurrently and connect the HSR system with other existing and planned rail and transportation networks across the state. Coordination across these segments and technical systems integration will become increasingly complex and important.

1288 km 1288 km
less than
3 hours 3 hours
350 km/h 350 km/h

Addressing Known Challenges

The California high-speed rail system is the first truly high-speed system to be planned, designed, built, and soon operated, in the nation. In taking on this challenge, the Authority has and will continue to break new ground and set a precedent for other high-speed rail systems in the US. This presents atypical challenges compared to other complex infrastructure projects that have been delivered under more developed state and federal regulatory guidelines and mature technical standards.

  • Funding and Financing
  • Environmental Clearances
  • Right-of- Way Acquisition
  • Long, Deep Tunnels through Seismic Areas
  • Increasingly Complex Technical System Integration

Implementation of high-speed rail in California will connect the state with a modern, integrated state-wide rail system and:

  • Establish vital new economic links between California’s megaregions
  • Create employment and educational opportunities for Californians
  • Improve air quality and support the state’s climate change initiatives
  • Preserve agricultural land, protect the environmental and promote sustainable communities
  • Create an opportunity to use the dedicated high-speed rail corridor to achieve broader public benefits

Involved Every Step of the Way

As the Rail Delivery Partner, WSP is accountable for day-to- day program management and program delivery activities, including:

  • Establishing a program-wide Program Management Information System (PMIS) to interface with existing Authority systems and facilitate reporting
  • Managing coordination of design, construction and commissioning on multiple segments that will be delivered through a range of delivery models and on overlapping timeframes
  • Advising on key delivery strategies; supporting or conducting risk assessment and cost-benefit analyses in support of the Authority’s determination of the delivery strategies
  • Delivering work to meet quality, legal and regulatory requirements of the overall program
  • Establishing technical requirements and standards for the entire HSR program
  • Being accountable for program delivery and project execution results through performance measurements, using a fee-at- risk approach

Our team’s scope of services covers:

  • Program Management
  • Operations and Maintenance
  • Commercial
  • Policy, Planning and Environment
  • Design and Construction
  • Program Integration and Coordination


  • California, USA


  • California High Speed Rail Authority (CHSRA)

Project Status

  • Ongoing