California High-Speed Rail

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


  • California, USA


  • California High Speed Rail Authority (CHSRA)

Project Status

  • Ongoing

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 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 mega-regions, 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 (the Authority) plans to begin high-speed operations by 2022, and connect San Francisco to Los Angeles in under three hours at speeds of 220mph by 2029. 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 plans in 2014. 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 U.S. market.

Representing our Client from Beginning to End

WSP is serving as the Rail Delivery Partner for CHSRA, 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.

Key Numbers

800 miles 800 miles
less than
3 hours 3 hours
220 mph 220 mph

Addressing Known Challenges

The California High-Speed Rail System is the first truly high-speed rail 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

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 mega regions
  • 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


List of small businesses that we have worked on the project:

Abtahi Engineering Management Consulting     D.C. Agrawal Consulting      LKG-CMC, Inc.      Russ Guarna Consulting      Tricertus LLC 
Acosta Engineering Solutions     Delegata Corporation     Luster National, Inc.     SC Solutions, Inc.     Turner Engineering Corporation
AllTransit Consultants     DHS Consulting, Inc.     Madrone (formerly Gibson & Skordal)     SEM, Inc.     Urban Ecos LLC 
Alta Vista Solutions     Fukuji Planning & Design     Meea Kang LLC     Spectrum Design     Veridico Group
Ascent Environmental, Inc.     Infiniti Consulting Group, Inc.     Oliveira Advisory Services LLC     Steve J Thomas Consulting, Inc.     VST Engineering, Inc.
Capio Group     Intueor Consulting     Padilla & Associates, Inc.     TEC Management Consultants, Inc.     Zoon Engineering, Inc.
Construction Engineering Consulting Group, Inc. (CECG)     Joshi PMCM     Paragon Partners Ltd.     Terraverde Energy LLC     ZproCis Solutions, Inc. 
Cordoba Corporation     Letterly Environmental & Land Planning     Red River Consulting Services Inc. (formerly Natoma Technologies, Inc.)     Todd Bartholf