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Rail News: High-Speed Rail

CHSRA: Definitions for project-related jobs estimates 'imprecise and potentially confusing'


The California High-Speed Rail Authority (CHSRA) is attempting to clear up confusion over how many jobs the statewide high-speed rail project would create. In recent weeks, the authority has come under fire by lawmakers and in the media, with claims that job figures are inflated.

In its draft business plan released Nov. 1, CHSRA included figures for construction-related jobs and permanent jobs that would be created once the system was up and running. Construction-related jobs are expressed in terms of “job years.” For example, one person working on the project for five years would constitute five “job years” of employment.

“In some cases, discussion of construction employment has been shorthanded to refer simply to ‘jobs,’ which is an imprecise and potentially confusing description,” according to a statement released Dec. 21 by the CHSRA board. “The final business plan and any related jobs discussion will consistently use the terms 'job-years' when referring to construction employment and ‘jobs’ for permanent operational positions.”

CHSRA estimates that the initial construction segment — a 130-mile corridor in the Central Valley — will generate 100,000 job years of employment. The development of the entire first phase of the system is expected to generate about 1 million job years of employment over the next 20 to 25 years. Permanent positions associated with the operation of the initial segment are estimated at between 1,300 and 1,600 jobs, according to CHSRA.   

“The construction of a high-speed rail system will create thousands and thousands of well-paying jobs for Californians, but it is important to emphasize that the case for high-speed rail does not revolve around jobs,” said CHSRA board member Mike Rossi, who also serves as Gov. Jerry Brown’s senior advisor for jobs and business development, in a prepared statement. “It is clear to Californians that something must be done to keep our state moving over the next generation.”

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

More News from 12/27/2011