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California's high-speed rail plans picked up more momentum Monday, as the Obama administration announced an additional $368 million to boost rail travel through the Central Valley.

The grant includes $300 million to stretch the initial high-speed rail route from Bakersfield toward Merced, and $68 million to purchase rail equipment.

California's share is part of $2 billion newly awarded by the Transportation Department as a result of Florida rejecting the rail funds.

"These projects will put thousands of Americans to work, save hundreds of thousands of hours for American travelers every year, and boost U.S. manufacturing," Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood declared.

The California money will enable the state to extend its high-speed rail route an additional 20 miles. Transportation Department officials said Monday this will "take the track and civil work from Fresno to the 'Wye' junction, which will provide a connection to San Jose to the West and Merced to the north."

A separate federal grant will help the state buy 15 passenger rail cars and 4 locomotives for use on the Pacific Surfliner, San Joaquin, and Capitol Corridors in California.

Twenty-four states, the District of Columbia and Amtrak submitted nearly 100 applications for the Florida funds.


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