Chinese HSR Delegation Visits Fresno
The day after Japan’s Ambassador to the US pledged to pay half the cost of California HSR at a conference in Los Angeles, a delegation from China was in Fresno to look at the city and plans for HSR. Report from ABC/30 in Fresno:
Members of the China Railway Construction Corporation visited Fresno to take a tour of the area. The group out of Beijing built the high speed rail system in China and is one of several bidders that want to bring their construction skills to the Golden State.
The meeting between Chinese delegation and Fresno officials took place at Precision Civil Engineering, one of the companies heavily invested in bringing the railway’s maintenance yard to Fresno.
California Assemblyman Henry T. Perea says, “Today we’re giving them an overview of the project, timelines, the process, as well as what the Central Valley looks like.” Delegates got a good vantage point of that from inside the Fresno County Sheriff Department’s Helicopter.
A spokesman for the Chinese says they liked what they saw. Jeffrey Chang says, “They understand Fresno is going to be the beginning or the end of the high speed rail project and the Chinese are very eager to get their foot hold here in North America.”
This group did not pledge any money, but Ambassador Ichiro Fujisaki’s offer to fund half the project is a big, bold move that will force China to step up its own game and make their own pledge if they are to have a chance to build and operate what will be a lucrative HSR system here in California.
Fresno’s ABC affiliate story included this from Supervisor Henry Perea (father of Assemblymember Perea):
“I think the Chinese are going to be very competitive in the application they put forward, but they understand and embrace the fact that they are going to partner with local valley businesses and hire local labor to do the work, so it’s a win-win all around,” Henry Perea said.
High speed rail is expected to create more than 100,000 jobs in the valley.
The Chinese want to build the trains, the tracks and possibly a manufacturing facility in Fresno.
I’m sure the discussion of the merits of the various trainsets will continue in the comments, as well it should. And the reports suggest that teams from France, Germany, and Spain will come to Fresno soon to take their own tour and, possibly, to make their own offer.
Of course, the details of that involvement matter – as the Peer Review Report noted late last year, the California High Speed Rail Authority needs to choose a business model, which will then allow the Authority to determine exactly what foreign participation might look like. But the bigger picture is what is important here. None of these countries or delegations would be wasting their time if they did not believe that the California HSR project was sensible and made financial sense.
Someone ought to tell that to the Washington Post.