The California High-Speed Rail Authority plans to release more details of its modified plan next week, but The Sacramento Bee has already reported some of the details.
According to the newspaper, the lower cost is because the first phase will now start in the San Fernando Valley using existing rail lines. The first full section of track will now stretch from Merced to the San Fernando Valley.
The rail project, authorized by voters in 2008, has been criticized since a draft plan released last November gave a jaw-dropping price of $98 billion to build the initial phase, which did not even include connections to the state capital or San Diego. The total cost had been projected to be $43 billion when voters approved the seed money four years ago.
Republican state Senator Doug LaMalfa (R-Oroville) is collecting signatures to try to get a measure on the ballot that will prevent the state from issuing bonds to help pay for the so-called "bullet train" plan.
Gov. Jerry Brown said he is planning to unveil a new and less costly high-speed rail plan, and the rail authority board is expected to consider the revised plan on April 12.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.