Skip to comments.Yes, Let's Get Real on California High Speed Rail!
Posted on 02/14/2019 11:35:52 AM PST by Publius
Despite what you might have heard, Gov. Gavin Newsom reaffirmed California's commitment to high-speed rail in his State of the State speech on Tuesday.
Newsom said California must "be real" about high-speed rail in the state, and that there "simply isn't a path" to completing the full vision of the project, which would connect San Francisco and Los Angeles by bullet trains in less than 3 hours. At the same time, he affirmed the state's commitment to completing the 119-mile first phase, which will connect Bakersfield to Merced.
Most media reports portrayed Newsom's announcement as a scaling back of the project. One actually said that Newsom had "ditched" it. The truth is both more complicated and much more hopeful.
Here's the reality: The Central Valley segment is and always has been the foundation for the whole vision of high-speed rail in California. Getting 200+ mph trains up and running from Bakersfield to Mercedas soon as possibleis crucial.
So the state's reaffirmed commitment to building that segment is big, and it's something we should celebrate. It means that a solid foundation for the whole system is guaranteed. That makes it morenot lesslikely that entire San Francisco to Los Angeles line will be built.
First, the Bakersfield to Merced line will demonstrate the viability of true high-speed rail for the first time in the U.S. context. The hardest part of translating a dream into concrete reality is often taking the first step. The Central Valley segment promises to be that step. Any uncertainty about its future has been erased.
Narrowing the project's near-term scope will help the California High Speed Rail Authority focus single-mindedly on finishing the first step. We should also welcome Newsom's call for greater transparency and stricter oversight of the project going forward. More accountability will benefit not only the Central Valley line but future high-speed rail projects in California and across the U.S.
Second, having a segment up and running will create the long-term political will for extending the system's reach to San Francisco and Los Angeles.
The catch 22 of this project has always been that getting the full system built depends on political will. Yet building political will depends on making the system usable before it's fully built out.
Newsom's intervention shifts the focus to building near-term political will by making one segment usable for Californians as soon as possible. But he didn't kill or "ditch" the longer term, big-picture vision of the project.
In fact, he did just the opposite.
Newsom said that the necessary environmental reviews for building the full line will continue, just as planned, and that California will continue to seek private and federal funds to make it happen. With high-speed rail receiving new attention in Congress, and climate change moving rapidly to the center of political debates, it's not far-fetched to believe the project might receive federal funding in the near term. It is, after all, the only true high-speed rail project currently underway in the U.S.
In the meantime, the first segment of high-speed rail can build popular support and political will by integrating transportation systems across much of Northern California, even without a high-speed line running all the way to San Francisco.
Ongoing upgrades to Amtrak lines running from Merced to Sacramento and Oakland provide a great opportunity to create a unified network that includes local transit systems and passenger rail lines, with the Central Valley segment as the backbone.
The Amtrak upgrades should include a dramatic expansion of daily round-trip runs to Sacramento and Oaklandto at least 16. The upgrades should also include new trainsets that can run at high speeds on high-speed tracks and run smoothly, too, at conventional speeds on freight track.
In other words, California has a great opportunity to borrow from the European model, which seamlessly blends elements of high speed and conventional rail. The right train will need to switch quickly from electric to diesel operation, and its suspension will need to be flexible enough for freight tracks but stable enough for high speeds.
The big-picture point is that this we should indeed be real about what's just happened in California. The governor hasn't ditched or derailed its high-speed rail project. He may have just given it a big boost. As always, the final outcome will depend on the amountand the effectivenessof pressure applied by advocates for high-speed rail.
But the opportunities are as wide open and promising as ever. It's on us now to seize them.
“The Central Valley segment is and always has been the foundation .for the whole vision of high-speed rail in California.”
I can find nothing that goes into the daily costs and expected ridership that will justify a high speed rail line from Merced to Bakersfield. It will at most, from all I’ve read, achieve maybe six trains a day each way. Six trains a day cannot pay for such an expensive line, when in very much more populated rail corridors, like New Jersey, local rail transit is a money losing operation.
What is HSR really about? Its about local boosterism (as having a “train stop” has ALWAYS been”, and it’s about the cromyism. lobbying and political corruption at the intsection of the “infrastructure” builders and the politicians. When they are all done, the contractors will have made their billions, the politicians will be out of office, and both classes will be retired leaving the public to complain to the next class of politicians about the bills.
High seep rail, low speed intelligence...
Except neither can afford fair price for farmlands.
Merced to Yosemite Valley is 2-1/2 hours on an Amtrak bus.
That's what liberal dems always say, while they know the new estimate of $77 billion is far short of what they know will cost over $100 billion. That $77 billion estimate covers some money already allocated to portions of the rail project, but the money was diverted to non-rail related projects. So that money must be replenished and will drive costs over $100 billion including inflation.
They can't even decide how to get the high-speed rail from Merced to San Francisco. One problem is how to get high-speed trains to share track with existing trains like CalTrain into San Francisco's TransBay Terminal. The train platform is an empty hole in the ground, blocks away from the existing CalTrain station; they diverted money away from building the train platform level into finishing the bus station and park levels. Now they are thinking of building a new tunnel from the TransBay Terminal to connect to rail several miles away because of the track sharing problem - the sharing problem will slow the high-speed trains to a crawl up the peninsula to downtown SF. These "high-speed" trains will never get passengers quickly from SF to anywhere.
From Merced to Bakersfield?!?
Millions can hardly wait to ride this train!!!!! Millions!!!
Bwah hah hah hah !!!!
With high-speed rail receiving new attention in Congress, and climate change moving rapidly to the center of political debates,
Beat me to it!
In a politically-plagued state like California, what good is a high-speed rail system? If they ran it to the nearest border, they might save money & serve a purpose at the same time.
In other words, what would Vito Corleone do?
Sorry, San Fran, not SBO.
“Except neither can afford fair price for farmlands.”
In California the initial French plan included an alignment on the west side of Interstate Five which is almost all state-owned land or else inexpensive dry scrub land.
Almost no farmland at all was to have been impacted by that proposal...of course that also meant that the Democrats wouldn’t be able to scheme their way into big bucks as the government bought up their land.
they bought 25% of the first 30 miles of 300+ miles necessary.
Why go anyplace else anyway? Globalists have the same developers dropping cookie cutter chain strip centers and townhomes into every old neighborhood everywhere making everyplace bland and the same.
If you look at the map of the construction projects under way they are not quite to Merced or Bakersfield.
I wonder if we’ll live long enough to see even a ceremonial run on the tracks.
Provided, of course, that they don’t run out of money before buying any, you know, track.
Prop. 1a specifically forbid subsidies for the HSR project:
“The planned passenger service by the authority in the corridor or usable segment thereof will not require a local, state, or federal operating subsidy.
“...the planned passenger train service to be provided by the authority, or pursuant to its authority, will not require operating subsidy”
But the HSR board ignored several provisions of Prop. 1a since 2008....starting with a “blended system” on the S.F. peninsula which violated the “2 hour 40 minute” “high-speed” provision.
The Simpson’s were never the same without Phil Hartman!
Just five minutes from Bako to Merced Cross the sea by rail...
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