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CA Bullet Train

Dave K

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I received the condensed version and - as I was pretty sure it would be from seeing the headline on their web site - it is a sad article.  Instead of a straight shot connecting Los Angeles and San Fransisco, which would be enough of an engineering challenge, the political compromise was a route with a dogleg through an additional mountain range and the Mojave valley - as a sop to one of the state's key politicians.  Longer route, more costly and, for some odd reason, construction started in the Mojave valley not in San Fransisco or Los Angeles so it will be a line to nowhere until it is completed.  Apparently it is costing US$1.8 Million a day and there a doubts it can ever be completed between the construction delays and money burn.



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That was known from the beginning of the work. At the time, the route and the decision to only build to "nowhere" were widely debated by people following the project.

IIRC, they started to build there because everything was ready (studies,etc) and the federal money had a validity date and needed to be used. All this wouldn’t have been an issue if the Republicans hadn’t nixed Obama’s funding for rail projects for partisan reasons. The project was basically setup to fail, and California went ahead to force future funding and the completion of the line.

However, I think it's a big failure on California's part not to have been able to propose a way to fund the rest of the line. Afterall, its GDP output is the sixth largest on the planet and it should have been able to support the project by itself. But the state of politics in the US is too toxic, and the project was always good ammo for local/Californian Republicans.

Edited by disturbman
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It was such a sad political mess from the get go. The power games were extreme, the money in that areas at either end were astounding. I got sucked in way back to managing the ca hsr website for a while until they could hire someone full time. It was so sad to watch decision after decision being made illogically and at times just absurdly. I’d almost cry reading press releases and articles. The jumble of national, state (California is almost 2 states), and local politics was just a mess, but of a pipe dream really for the times it finally started to come together.


but let’s stop at the politics here on this as it’s just full of it.



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If this fails (along with other true HSR projects such as Texas Central), likely will set back any development of new high speed rail for another generation or two in the U.S. Then again it may have been too late anyway given the arc of transportation policy (and development/settlement patterns) in the U.S. post-war. 

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The issue with HSR in CA is that everyone wants it, but not on their backyard.


The project might be a complete failure, mostly because both the budget, the goals and the layout were written in law.


It's like a designer working for a contractor who decides what, when and why the designer should do every single minute thing, and then points at the designer for doing a horrible job.

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Weird since California has turned into the loudest Karen of climate change, that the politions aren't more on board with HSR.

Edited by katoftw
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An extrernal, personal and apolitical viewpoint on the issues around the California High-Speed Rail, especially it's media protrayal.


- It's 2008, a proposition that wasn't made into law barely passes.

Article about the "bullet train project going off the rails".


- Local politicians meddle with the project, throwing tantrums. "Either the HSR stops in my tiny insignificant town or i won't allow you to build on my town's land!"

Article about the  bullet train project "going off the rails".


Landowners want to milk CAHSR evry possible cent for their valueless land. CAHSR gets a lawsuit evry couple hundred of meters. Delays and expenses ensue.

Article about the "bullet train project going off the rails".


The half-funded CAHSR is running out of money. They beg evryone for more funds. In response the federal governments yoinks funding because fuck you.

Article about the "bullet train project going off the rails".


NIMBYs: but what about the treeesss! the hooousee! the noooiseee! I don't like seeing trains! I don't want trains! Put them underground! reeeeee! 

Article about the "bullet train project going off the rails".


A sociopathic bilionaire tries to convince the state government to fund his own very personal ludicrous and irrealistic alternative to the HSR. 

Article about the "bullet train project "going off the rails".


CAHSR is forced to present a ludicrous number of environmental reports, assessments and other needless bureaucratic wasted paper. Delays and expneses ensue.

Article about the  bullet train project "going off the rails".


Opponents: Look, the HSR is useless and expensive! Train to nowhere! Bondoggle! Bondoggle! Bondoggle! AAAAAHHH BONDOOOOGGGGGLLLLLLEEEEEE!!!!

Article about the  bullet train project "going off the rails".


Depsite this the CAHSR solders on.


In a future, hopefully near, the long-delayed CAHSR finally opens.

You can very well bet that there will be yet another article about the "bullet train project going off the rails".


Unfortunately the CAHSR project has been cursed with a volatile political climate, a state goverment that seems to lack the will to take the project to completion at best, and to put it mildly, an unfavorable media coverage, often outright unfair. Opposition to the project is given far more, if not exclusive coverage, and no news outlet even seems to bother listing the minimal benefits the HSR will give, and often glissing over the several positive impacts the CAHSR had, for example the electrification of Caltrain.


These kind of articles no longer surprise me. They're run-of-the mill stuff, the same thing repeated over and over again, with the same concepts. Nobody seems to take care to explain the actual issues CAHSR is facing.

Overbudget? Of course they went overbudget! They weren't even granted half of the necessary budget to start with!

Overbudget? Of course they went overbudget! Evry crappy dirt road in the middle of the desert had to be provided with an overpass predisposed for a 4-lane highway!

Overbudget? Of course they went overbudget! They had to fight in courts hundreds of parasitic landlords whose land was worthless! And had to pay them ludicrous sums!


Is it an intrinsic issue of high-speed railway or it's just the funding that was half-done? The infrastructure overdesigned? Ostile Legislation? The whims of local politicians?

Has even atleast once crossed the mind of those writing such articles that maybe the things CAHSR needs is even more funding? 


However, there's some light. The issues CAHSR are almost entirely political at local, state and federal levels. Continuous polling has shown a key figure - the lastest, taken in April 2022 shows that more than half of californians support the project, and only a third opposes it.


In another poll, taken of the areas where the CAHSR was planned to pass through, the area with the lowest support for the railway was the central valley, where - surprise, surprise - 56% of residents support the construction of the railways. Fifty-six percent. Isn't this a majority? A pretty solid one at that.

The fundamental key is that the people do support this project, irrespective of what some generic Think-Tank (wich absolutely isn't a "tank" and it's surely even less "think") that recieves funding from questionable companies might have to say.


These average articles "Oh, CAHSR expensive! CAHSR bad!" have no intrinsic journalistic value and should not be paid attention in any means whatsoever.


Edited by Socimi
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