In 2011, the rail authority faced growing opposition in wealthy Silicon Valley communities about an elevated viaduct that would carry 220-mph trains. In a deal with Bay Area elected officials, the state agreed to put the bullet train on ground-level tracks shared with much slower commuter trains between San Jose and San Francisco. A similar compromise was later made between Burbank and Los Angeles. The deals not only quelled opposition but helped reduce costs by billions of dollars.
In 2016, the rail authority cut costs by reducing the planned diameter of roughly 50 miles of mountain tunnels, which reduced speeds to a maximum of 200 mph. And earlier this year, the rail authority gave up plans for dedicated tracks over 30 miles from Gilroy to San Jose, saying it would attempt to build track on a freight right of way that would limit speeds to 110 mph.
Many transportation experts, including state staff and independent analysts, have long dismissed the probability that any operational California bullet train will meet the two-hour-40 minute timetable. A state-appointed peer review panel warned the legislature in 2013 that “it is unlikely that trains would actually be scheduled to run during normal hours of operation within … 2 hours 40 minute limits.”