As the slow train wrecks disappear, the bullet train project in California is extremely expensive.
And now, because of the reverse gear, the 220+ mph dream train from Los Angeles to San Francisco could be on the verge of derailment in a head-on collision between Democrats in the state legislature.
There are those who are ready to make the railway project white elephant status by hanging on to the original grand plan drawn up almost two decades ago. Then there are those who want to break the intrastate project and rebuild the business plan.
Those who channel Dr Strangelove by riding the massive bomb that is the bullet train’s original business plan while burning at least $ 80 billion and over 20 years of construction before it carried a single passenger from LA in San Francisco need a reality check.
And many Democrats representing the traffic-congested LA basin and the Bay Area want to sound the alarm bells.
They don’t really jump ship. Instead, they want to see public transport work. And that means building the high-use segments of a statewide rail section first.
And the way to get there in an auto-centric California isn’t to accede to Governor Newsom’s request to give the California High Speed Rail Authority the remaining $ 4.2 billion of the 9, $ 95 billion from voters in rail bonds approved 13 years ago. The governor wants him to complete construction of the 119-mile stretch from Madera to Shafter to connect the 138th and 339th largest cities in the state, respectively.
Instead, they want to see the money go first towards building bullet train segments in the state’s major urban areas – the Greater Los Angeles area and the Bay Area.
Their reasoning is simple. There is much more ridership potential for rail projects to move commuters to and from suburbs and suburbs to urban employment centers. This is where non-diesel rail service can do the most to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and expand public use and in turn generate more support for rail commuting projects.
The biggest flaw in the high-speed rail plan is that it ignored California’s most pressing need to reduce congestion on the busy corridors between interior sections of the state and coastal employment centers.
The greatest need ever has been to reduce congestion and pollution caused by travel to northern and southern California.
The decision to pour money into the Central Valley first was made out of political convenience to keep the high-speed madness from collapsing under its awe-inspiring weight.
The CHRA was hitting roadblocks after roadblocks trying to move high-speed train through urbanized areas. The delays jeopardized federal funding.
So, they started with the segment where the least resistance could be gathered, the engineering challenges were minimal, and the terrain mostly flat with minimal hassle people to move. This is how the Train to Nowhere was born.
There is a very strong possibility that all the private sector money that would be supposed to be hoping to get on board once voters approve the $ 10 billion rail bond probably never will. This means that the $ 80 billion bullet train project must be built entirely with taxpayer funds.
Democrats pushing to divert money to urban segments are not giving up on the idea of a higher-speed north-south rail system. They rightly believe that it will be difficult to leverage the necessary public support and money if 20 years pass after the approval of Proposal 1A and only 119 miles of the 500 miles of track are in place and that the only trains in circulation are test trains.
Proposal 1A approved by voters in 2008 opens the door for the legislature to condition the remaining $ 4.2 billion of the obligation to be spent on building faster rail service in the Los Angeles Basin and area. the Bay.
The official language of the proposal refers to the Corridor from Palmdale to Los Angeles Union Station as well as Merced to Stockton to Oakland and San Francisco via the Altamont Corridor among those that could be funded with the proceeds of the bond.
There is a project awaiting funding to straighten the winding tracks through the Altamont with a series of tunnels and bridges to increase the speeds of trains on that segment from 20 mph to 120 mph.
The ACE service will be operational from Merced in San José in 2023.
ACE Forward is on the drawing board to extend ACE further south to Merced. There he will connect to the CHSRA project which, for practical and financial reasons, may not be the 220 mph and trains promised to voters.
At Merced, passengers could take an ACE train to San Jose and take CalTrain along the peninsula to the Transbay terminal in San Francisco.
Or they could take ACE in Merced to the future North Lathrop station to catch Valley Link which should be up and running by 2028. From there they can reach San Francisco and Oakland via BART at Pleasanton-Dublin station.
CHRSA passengers could also take ACE trains from Merced to Sacramento.
It might not use the high-speed trains envisioned, but it would put in place more robust service between the state’s major urban centers in this century instead of the 22nd century.
And more importantly, it provides parallel rail service to congested corridors with much higher potential ridership than trains between San Francisco and Los Angeles.
It’s likely that a similar scenario exists to make train travel for commuters and others more robust from Southern California’s Inland Empire – San Bernardino and Riverside counties – and Los Angeles.
It makes more sense to have a rail network that gets the most people where they need to go and a network that best maximizes greenhouse gas reduction for every dollar spent.
Even now, for miles driven, the cleaner diesel trains ACE uses based on the kilometers of collective vehicles not driven by passengers accumulate an incredible amount of pollutants by being spewed out.
And as the technological advancements in battery-powered trains become more and more practical with each passing year, this will make a hybrid approach more feasible.