The state Senate in California has approved initial funding of $US8 billion for a bullet train project that could become the first dedicated high-speed rail line in the United States.
By a vote of 21-16 on Friday, the Senate authorised the state to begin selling bonds to finance the building of an initial segment of a rail line that would eventually connect Los Angeles and San Francisco.
The two cities are about 560km apart and the first section of track will be 210km.
Unions lobbied hard for the $68 billion network. Republicans opposed it.
The federal government has insisted that construction on the train line start in the Central Valley.
Critics worry that funding will eventually run dry before the network can be completed, leaving California with a "train to nowhere".