Californian high speed plans revised

Mr. RSS Nov 2, 2011

  1. Mr. RSS

    Mr. RSS Administrator

    USA: The California High Speed Rail Authority launched a revised ‘draft business plan’ for its proposed 832 km Phase I of a 400 km/h network connecting San Francisco with Anaheim and Los Angeles. In announcing what it described as a ‘foundation for an economically-viable high speed rail system’, CHSRA has increased its projection for the total capital cost from an initial $43bn to $98·5bn, with completion of Phase I put back from 2020 to 2033. The authority has also revised the funding model to allow for the construction phase to be funded entirely from public-sector sources. However, it expects private funding to be generated from property and other related development around stations, and no operating subsidy is envisaged. In 2008 Californian voters approved an initial tranche of funding that allowed the state to issue up to $10bn in bonds, of which $501m has already been sold and a further $2·6bn committed, whilst the federal government has already contributed $3·6bn. This package is expected to allow construction to begin next year on an initial 208 km segment in the Central Valley from ‘just north of Bakersfield to just south of Merced’. Subsequent phases would see the line extended progressively north and south as finance becomes available; electrification of the Caltrain corridor into San Francisco would allow high speed services to use existing tracks to give a ‘one seat ride’ before a dedicated line is built into the city. Defending the budget increase, CHSRA pointed to a forecast investment of $170bn in road and airport infrastructure ‘by mid-century’ to meet expected population growth. Federal Railroad Administrator Joseph Szabo told a conference in New York on November 1 that the revised programme ‘didn’t sugar-coat anything’, and that the project ‘is substantially more cost-effective’ than non-rail alternatives. A period of public consultation follows publication of the business plan prior to its submission to the State Legislature in January 2012.

  2. JamesHetzel

    JamesHetzel TrainBoard Member

    I wish the knuckleheads in Gov. Moonbeams office would revise this to the trash can. The state is $500 BILLION unside down in unfunded benefits for public employees, yet they insist people will pay to ride this train. It's a loser. I didn't start this thread, but as a CPA I cannot quietly sit and watch tax money (public sector sources) by wasted. The sad part...I bet a contractor from another country builds the equipment. More US money going overseas.
  3. jagged ben

    jagged ben TrainBoard Member

    They are doing the whole thing backwards. The whole project should have started with electrification and improvement of the existing passenger rail lines that serve the more densely populated areas. (Yes, they will need the cooperation of the freights.) Once that is done they could start cutting in high-speed chunks that will cut travel times for existing lines, and whatever money they spend will have immediate benefits and not be wasted on an impossibly big goal. And they should have started with a smaller goal; say, making the train the preferred method of travel between Sacramento and the Bay Area, and increasing ridership on Metrolink. As it is, they are building a "railroad to nowhere" in one of the least transit friendly parts of the state, and passengers will have to transfer from this section in the Central Valley to whatever other rail lines or modes of travel they are taking to actually get to their destination. People won't do it, and ridership will be too low. The high-speed line will be underutilized until such time as they can connect LA to Northern California, but most likely the funding will run out decades before that can ever happen.

    As a fan of high-speed rail in Europe (where they did it right, and of course started decades ago), it makes me cry.

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