Officials in California have slashed the cost of the state’s controversial high speed rail by almost $30 billion, to $68.4 billion, in a revised plan.

Following the release of the California High-Speed Rail Revised 2012 Business Plan, business leaders and public officials voiced strong support for launching the nation’s first high speed rail service within ten years.

The changes were based on hundreds of public comments and more than 300 meetings with members of the public.

Construction is proposed to begin this year on a 300-mile Initial Operating Section stretching from Merced to the San Fernando Valley.

Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr. said:

“In ten years, Californians will be able to travel through the Central Valley and into the Los Angeles Basin in half the time it takes to drive. This revised plan is bold, practical and puts California out in front once again.”

The new plan needs to receive the official go-ahead from the California High Speed Rail Authority before being approved by the state.

The state has yet to release any funds allocated to the project and must approve the costs in order to sell the first bonds to release federal funding worth $3.3 billion.

The new plan proposes that most of the initial spending on the project would do toward upgrading existing lines near Los Angeles and San Francisco rather than building new ones.

The plan still projects a two-hour, forty minute travel time between San Francisco and Los Angeles.