Waiting for the train

1964 Shinkansen high-speed trains start rolling in Japan.

1978 Gov. Jerry Brown proposes a bullet train for California. The state Legislature isn’t interested.

1981 French TGV line is launched. Germany follows a decade later.

1996 Legislation by state Sen. Quentin Kopp creates the California High-Speed Rail Authority—to lay the groundwork for future construction of high-speed rail.

2002 Gov. Gray Davis signs legislation to put a high-speed-rail bond measure on the statewide ballot in 2004. But the measure is eventually pulled because of concerns about the state’s economy and growing budget deficit.

2008 Voters ultimately do pass Proposition 1A, authorizing $10 billion in bonds to help build California’s high-speed-rail system.

2010 Federal government kicks in $3.5 billion toward first segment of the line. Republicans take over Congress. No new federal money is expected any time soon.

2012 Construction is due to begin in the Central Valley some time in the second half of 2012.

2015-2017 Trains are expected to be tested. The need to test trains is part of the reason for starting in the Central Valley, the only truly high-speed segment of the whole system.

2020 Phase I of California’s high-speed-rail system is expected to be open to the public in 2020, connecting San Francisco to Los Angeles. Travel between the two cities will take 2 hours and 40 minutes.

2020-2030 High-speed rail reaches Phase II cities, including Sacramento and San Diego. Passengers getting on in Sacramento could reach L.A. in 2 hours and 17 minutes. A trip to Fresno would take an hour.