The California High-Speed Rail Authority Board last week passed a 2012 revised $68.4-billion business plan that will provide for high-speed rail service within a decade, connect the state’s major metropolitan areas, utilize existing rail infrastructure in Northern and Southern California and provide earlier statewide benefits to commuters in the Bay Area and Los Angeles.

For the project to break ground, final approval is needed from the state legislature, which is scheduled to begin budget talks this week.

The business plan was adopted with an amendment committing the authority to work with transportation agencies in Orange County to identify cost-effective ways to enable a one-seat ride to and from Anaheim, according to an authority statement. As part of the amendment, the Southern California Passenger Rail Planning Coalition will consider options for a connection that will cost less and be less intrusive than a full-build connection enabling the one-seat ride to Anaheim.

The board also approved a Memorandum of Understanding with Southern California transportation agencies and MPOs that outlines a shared commitment to advance the development of high-speed rail while providing funding for local early investment projects in Southern California that will improve rail service immediately. 

Another MOU was approved with Northern California transportation entities that would electrify the Caltrain commuter train from San Jose to San Francisco.