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The Associated Press May 6, 2010, 3:21PM ET

Calif High-Speed Rail Authority gets new executive

An executive of the company that builds France's bullet trains has been chosen to lead the California High-Speed Rail Authority.

The authority on Thursday announced Roelof van Ark as its chief executive. The 58-year-old is president of Alstom Transportation, a subsidiary of the French transport and infrastructure company Alstom SA.

He also worked as an engineer and manager for Siemens, the conglomerate that builds Germany's high-speed rail system.

Van Ark will be leading a rail authority that is facing multiple challenges as it plans an 800-mile system connecting California's largest cities. The state has been awarded $2.25 billion in federal stimulus funds to jump start the project, but more is needed to complete the estimated $43 billion system.

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