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China and Japan Want to Build and Finance California's High Speed Rail System

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Before Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger leaves office this year, he'd like to leave a legacy and one that isn't poisoned by that "deficit" word. Too late on that one. He could, however, leave somewhat of a mark on the development of high speed rail. At the very least, he's trying really hard.

Back in June he announced a vision of having a demonstration high speed line between L.A. and San Diego by year's end. Talk of that has all but dissipated but the Governor's trip to Asia this week -- with high speed rail staff in tow -- is providing news about the project, which would sweep travelers between San Francisco and Los Angeles in about two and a half hours.

After a 73-minute high speed trip from Nanjing to Shanghai on Sunday, Schwarzenegger announced California will be accepting bids from the country to build the railway. "We look to China to build our high speed rail, to be part of the bidding process that we are going to go through," he said. "Many countries will be bidding to build our high-speed rail, (and we plan) also to look for financing from China."

Then the Governor on Monday headed to Japan to ride another bullet train and hear their proposal to build and loan money for the $40 billion project.

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"There’s quite a debate between Chinese and Japanese HSR operators about which system is better for California," noted Robert Cruickshank, who follows the project in depth at his blog. "This trip isn’t likely to settle that debate, but clearly China has been busily lobbying the governor’s office and the CHSRA."

And add to that South Korea, where the Governor headed next. Bidding, which is likely to open up in late 2011, is expected to come from European companies as well. Groundbreaking on the railway could begin in 2012.

Meanwhile, 76 days into the fiscal year, California is still without a budget and some have been hassling the Governor about leaving the country during a budget crisis.