California High Speed Rail Fail

Would anyone be shocked that the California high speed rail project is, um, a whole hell of a lot more expensive than it was supposed to be? Ed Morrissey catches the squeal from the Merced Sun Star

Building tracks for the first section of California’s proposed high-speed rail line will cost $2.9 billion to $6.8 billion more than originally estimated, raising questions about the affordability of the nation’s most ambitious rail project at a time when its planning and finances are under fire.

A 2009 business plan developed for the California High-Speed Authority, the entity overseeing the project, estimated costs at about $7.1 billion for the equivalent stretch of tracks. Officials say those estimates were made before detailed engineering work and feedback from communities along the proposed route.

The latest estimates are contained in two environmental impact studies that were shared with The Associated Press before their public release on Tuesday.

Ed has, of course, some great commentary on the subject. But, let’s consider this

Construction of the first stretch of tracks – as much as 140 miles from south of Merced to just north of Bakersfield – is scheduled to begin by September 2012 using $3.5 billion in federal money and an estimated $2.8 billion from the sale of state bonds approved by voters.

Hey, let’s take a look at where those cities lie. Here’s Bakersfield. Here’s Modesto. Oh, sorry, those weren’t the location maps, those were earthquake issues. Here’s a map that shows their relation to each other…oh, sorry, that was a map showing the San Andreas fault. My bad!

Kind of a bad idea to attempt high speed rail in a very seismically active zone, eh? Besides the fact that there really isn’t any reason to run the line from Modesto to Bakersfield (no offense, but, really, LA to SF would have made a bit more sense.

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5 Responses to “California High Speed Rail Fail”

  1. Otis P. Driftwood says:

    So, they are spending billions to run a rail line from Podunk to Bumf*ck? How very California of them.

  2. captainfish says:

    say those estimates were made before detailed engineering work and feedback from communities

    So, this plan has been in development for about 5 year and ….. they didn’t do the basics of planning?!?! Must be California. But hey, why ask the communities if they want this noisy land-seizure mass-fail project?

    This plan is to ultimately link cities from Sacramento and San Fran all the way down to San Diego.

    Tell me how fast does a high speed rail go when traveling the 19 miles from Irvine to Anaheim????

    And you have to love their literature…

    Reads like some of the worst puff-pieces from Al Gore and Michael Mann.

    The most recent ridership forecasts for the California High-Speed Train Project estimate between 88 – 117 million passengers annually by 2030 for the entire 800-mile high-speed train network connecting Sacramento, the San Francisco Bay Area, Central Valley, Los Angeles, Orange County, the Inland Empire, and San Diego.

    There are 26 sections. So, 100 million divided by 26 divided by 265 = 10,537 people per day will be riding any one section of the route. ummmmm…. Does anyone else see something wrong here??

    Of the 911 million auto travelers forecast in 2030 to make trips between the 14 regions, about 6% or 50 million would be attracted to high-speed trains.

    OOoohhhh.. ok. now its only 50 million riders. so that would be 5,268 per any route per day. That still seems like a lot of people to cram in to a few cars.

    Within the regions that have several stations (Los Angeles Basin, the Bay Area, and San Diego County) high-speed trains will attract another 25 million auto trips, less than 1% of the local urban area auto travel.

    So, all of this will be to reduce 1%-6% auto travel!?!?

    Hey, how about instead of spending these billions of monies, you just give the unemployed the money? Or, how about you upgrade the highways to 15 lanes since you are so concerned about congestion!?!!!?!?

    Here is the overall exit question…. I ask anyone to answer. If the High Speed rail is to be the transport solution of the near future, then why does it cost so much and why does it only solve 1%-6% of auto traffic by 2030 – after the amount of auto traffic would grow by 20% by that time.

    Exit thrust:
    Operating “trainsets” will have multiple cars and will be up to 1,300 feet long, depending on the type of train and the market demand. At peak travel times, trains can be lengthened, or trainsets can be connected, to operate as a single train. The high-speed train could be configured in many different ways either to maximize seating, which would provide seating for up to 1,300 passengers or to provide more space per passenger than a conventional airline seat and provide a café area and other amenities, in which case trains could carry around 950 passengers.

    So, now we are down to about 1,000 passengers per route… so much for the 10,500.

    The Authority concluded that the capital costs of the high-speed train system would need to be largely publicly financed, regardless of the ticket prices

    And, for the bonehead of the post:
    The Los Angeles to Anaheim section of the 800-mile system is 29 miles long. This section travels between Los Angeles Union Station and the planned Anaheim Regional Transportation Intermodal Center (ARTIC) via the existing Los Angeles-San Diego Rail Corridor (LOSSAN) currently utilized by BNSF, Metrolink and Amtrak trains. An additional station is being considered for either Norwalk/Santa Fe Springs or Fullerton.

    The high-speed train project is expected to generate 92,000 construction-related jobs in this section over the life of construction. Once operating, projections estimate 14,100 boardings daily in Los Angeles and 23,500 in Anaheim, with travel time between the two cities estimated at 22-25 minutes.

    This route is only 29 miles long but will still take the high speed rail half-an-hour to go (same as a car) and cost as much as a tank of gas (I bet). But, 92,000 jobs for this one small section alone?!?!?!?! seriously?!?!?!

    Only in screwed up socialist america. Instead of reducing taxation and costs of living, they just want to take take take take take.

  3. proof says:

    There are a lot of good reasons to pull the plug on this disaster in the making. The latest doubling of the cost estimates should put the fear of God into anyone who would be so stupid as to continue.

  4. They’re trying to build this high speed rail like it is some magical elixer. Even though it won’t work. Won’t have much ridership. Will lose money.

    I’ve got nothing against rail, when I lived in NJ we used to take the trains to NYC, either from the Manasquan, Woodbridge, or Hoboken stations, depending on what we were going in for (for massive drinking, our home station of Manasquan.) I never minded the NY subway system for getting around. I enjoy taking the DC Metro, it gets you near where you want to go. I wouldn’t mind having a lite rail system here in Raleigh that made sense.

    Then you have the Atlanta system, which is a disaster, barely takes you where you need to go, and always seems to be running late or broken.

  5. mojo says:

    Hey, you want real fun, head on over to Riverside, where they cleverly sited a dam on top of the fault…

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