There's been some interesting rumours floating around that SNCF had an extensive plan drawn up for California HSR with the backing of private investors, but that they bailed because of politics being played with the route and other aspects. Wouldn't surprise me at all. An outside group like that would be the best possible method to go with, and completely out of the question for the politicians who're more concerned about their own futures than the success of the project.
This has been quite the clusterfuck.
To be fair, it'd also look really bad to be giving all that stimulus money to the French.
The sense of "We don't do things the European way in AMERICA!" seems to be so pervasive. Caltrain is currently tendering the contracts for re-signalling its line on the peninsula, that it will be in the future sharing with HSR. The options are:
1. Choose the industry standard, which is used throughout the word, fully compatible with HSR, offers 100% crash avoidance, performance-tested on numerous different kinds of lines in numerous different climates, and installation is offered by dozens of different companies making competition very viable.
2. Choose to develop their own signalling system, which will not be compatible with HSR, has no performance record, only can be installed by one firm, and is about three to four times the per km cost of option #1.
I'll give a hint to which option they went with: signalling system 1 is European
Rail Traffic Management System (ERTMS).