California High Speed Rail Authority CEO to step down

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A conceptual view of a high-speed train travelling on the California high-speed rail. Credit: South Bay/Flickr.
A conceptual view of a high-speed train travelling on the California high-speed rail. Credit: South Bay/Flickr.

The CEO of the California high-speed rail project – which will become the USA’s first true high-speed rail network – has announced he is to step down.

After five years with the California High-Speed Rail Authority (CHSRA), Jeff Morales has announced his decision to resign in a letter sent to governor Jerry Brown and the authority’s board of directors and staff on April 21, citing a belief that now is the right time for new leadership.

Morales will step down in June, 2017.

The high-speed rail line is currently under construction and will eventually connect Downtown Los Angeles with San Francisco, via Central Valley, with service speeds of up to 220mph (350 km/h) once complete.

Its construction was approved in 2010 months after Morales was hired.

In his resignation letter, Morales said: “I am very proud of the progress we have made in advancing the nation’s first high-speed rail system, against the odds and in spite of all the obstacles.

“We have 119 miles of construction underway through three major design-build contracts.

“To date, the project has supported thousands of jobs, put almost a thousand tradesmen and women to work, and injected upwards of $4 billion into California’s economy.”

Under Morales’ guidance CHSRA has grown from around a dozen employees to more than 200.

Dan Richard, chairman of CHSRA’s board of directors, said: “Jeff has successfully built the organisation over the past five years and we’re grateful for his leadership.

“He moved the high-speed rail project from the planning phase into construction, laying the groundwork for commercial operation.”

Prior to working with for the CHSRA, Morales was senior vice president of engineering firm Parsons Brinckerhoff, executive vice president of the Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) and director of the California Department of Transportation.

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