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Don't buy the hysteria over a federal risk analysis of California's bullet train

To the editor: After The Times published a story on California high-speed rail’s budget based on a draft document by the Federal Railroad Administration, the document’s authors called the story “misleading at best.” We agree. (“California's bullet train is hurtling toward a multibillion-dollar overrun, a confidential federal report warns,” Jan. 13)

The story ignores the fact that the original federal grant was only for basic construction, not all the stations, electrification and other features obviously necessary for operation. Calling those additions — which are funded by state dollars — a “cost overrun” seriously misleads readers, particularly when full project costs were announced by our board last month and submitted to the state Department of Finance and California Legislature. That plan was clear that capital costs for the $7.8 billion program have actually decreased. 

A risk analysis, which is what the Federal Railroad Administration drafted, is not a funding or business plan. Instead it described potential risks that may never become reality. 

The Times vastly overstated the meaning of this assessment, which is why we agree with the assessment authors that the story is “misleading at best.”

Dan Richard and Jeff Morales, Sacramento

Richard is chairman of the California High-Speed Rail Authority board of directors; Morales is the authority’s chief executive. 

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