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Transportation The Almighty Buck

California Requests Stimulus Funding For Bullet Train 567

Posted by Soulskill
from the does-it-come-with-a-silencer dept.
marquinhocb writes "Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger requested $4.7 billion in federal stimulus money Friday to help build an 800-mile bullet train system from San Diego to San Francisco. 'We're traveling on our trains at the same speed as 100 years ago,' the governor said. 'That is inexcusable. America must catch up.' Planners said the train would be able to travel from Los Angeles to San Francisco in two hours and 40 minutes, traveling at speeds of more than 200 miles per hour. About time! There comes a point when 'let's add another lane' is no longer a viable option!"
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California Requests Stimulus Funding For Bullet Train

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  • by winkydink (650484) * <sv.dude@gmail.com> on Friday October 02, 2009 @06:15PM (#29622243) Homepage Journal

    At least not in our lifetimes. Between all of the NIMBY's and environmental impact statements, this will be delayed in the courts for decades

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      Likely true, but if California is able to do this, any state can.
      • by maharb (1534501) on Friday October 02, 2009 @07:05PM (#29622633)

        Wait, WHAT? Cali has way more money/ability to get money than most states. Not to mention they have more of a 'need' for this type of transport. Most other states probably wouldn't have the numbers of people to justify building it. Imagine a state in the midwest asking for 5 billion so that the tiny train riding population can ride in style. Ya right. So if by any state you mean New York and surrounding area then yes. The population density throughout the US is not really set up for a bullet train system because even if you did connect major cities, you would need cars and buses to get people to their spread out homes.

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by IANAAC (692242)

          Most other states probably wouldn't have the numbers of people to justify building it. Imagine a state in the midwest asking for 5 billion so that the tiny train riding population can ride in style. Ya right. So if by any state you mean New York and surrounding area then yes.

          You most likely have not lived east of the Mississippi. There are HUGE swaths of populations that could use fast, convenient mass transportation. Not just New York and "surrounding areas." Think the entire eastern seaboard. Thin

    • At least not in our lifetimes. Between all of the NIMBY's and environmental impact statements, this will be delayed in the courts for decades

      But we have SOOOO much money in the state budget, we'll be able to buy them all off!

      Note that this is bitter bitter sarcasm. As the state is laying people off left and right and performing slash and burn on it's education system among other things, it's good to know that the governator is still willing to reach for the pie in the sky.

  • Hmmm (Score:4, Funny)

    by MightyMartian (840721) on Friday October 02, 2009 @06:16PM (#29622255) Journal

    I'm thinking a better suggestion is between Los Angeles and Tijuana.

  • by geekoid (135745)

    are there a lot of San Diego to San Francisco commuters?
    Also, he should look into California's unique geology and formations between those two destinations.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      They should do San Jose to Portland instead. The sheer volume of techies passing between these two cities would make such a railway line profitable. Intel alone runs a small fleet of private jets to ferry staff back and fourth, because it's cheaper than filling commercial flights. And that's just the internal traffic within a single company.

      Also, Portland and San Jose is full of the sort of people who like trains, so the opposition would be less.

      • Portland and San Jose is full of the sort of people who like trains, so the opposition would be less.

        Unemployed semiconductor engineers like trains?

        • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

          by grcumb (781340)

          Portland and San Jose is full of the sort of people who like trains, so the opposition would be less.

          Unemployed semiconductor engineers like trains?

          Semiconductor engineer? What is that - some guy who pilots a monorail? Or maybe he only collects half the tickets....

    • Re:Why? (Score:4, Insightful)

      by s73v3r (963317) <.moc.liamg. .ta. .r3v37s.> on Friday October 02, 2009 @06:45PM (#29622471)
      I'm guessing most of it would be between SF and LA, but San Diego isn't that far from LA, so adding that isn't much more.
    • Because (Score:3, Informative)

      by Aloisius (1294796)

      Los Angeles to San Francisco is the busiest air corridor in the United States with an estimated 60 million passengers per year expected by 2020. It is one of the top 20 corridors in the world.

      The airports can't handle much more traffic and it costs a substantial amount of money to build new ones (upwards of $20 billion), connect highways, etc.

      So high speed rail makes real sense. There isn't even a place to put another airport in the bay area unless you stick it way out of the way.

      The links to San Diego and

  • Fly Southwest (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday October 02, 2009 @06:23PM (#29622317)

    I can fly Southwest from Sacramento to San Diego in 1:25 minutes of air time.
    Add 45 minutes at Sac security and 20 in the terminal and I still get there faster than the travel time on this train which probably won't ever exist.

    Not only that, but the plane ticket costs around $74 during the summer. There is no way this train could possibly compete with airfare. Crossing california is not practical on trains.

    Trains are great for crossing urban centers. A train from San Diego to LA would have been great when I lived in SD and worked in LA. Fix that problem, then we can talk about bullet trains.

    • by s73v3r (963317)
      And this train is supposed to go from LA to SF in about 2:40. Which is much faster than the plane you just mentioned. Besides, trains typically are a lot more pleasant to ride than airplanes, mainly because they actually have legroom.
    • Crossing california is not practical on trains.

      Works fine in Europe, with all those mountains and such...

    • Re:Fly Southwest (Score:4, Informative)

      by tonydiesel (658999) on Friday October 02, 2009 @06:57PM (#29622573)
      Per the CA high speed rail site Sacramento to San Diego would take 3 hours 35 mins and cost $68.

      http://www.cahighspeedrail.ca.gov/map.htm [ca.gov]

      Granted, you may not trust those numbers, but still, I'd say that's comparable. Plus, you don't have to deal with the cattle-car rush that is the boarding on a Southwest flight. I'd take the train in this case... similar price, reasonable speed and none of the hell that comes along with modern air travel...

      And, this will be a train from San Diego to LA as well...
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Leebert (1694) *

        none of the hell that comes along with modern air travel...

        I don't know how long that will last, truly. I have heard rumblings that TSA is really eyeing up Amtrak as a great expansion to their mini empire. Ah, yes, a few years old but: http://www.dhs.gov/xnews/releases/press_release_0401.shtm [dhs.gov]

        I'm waiting for the first train to get blown up in the US. I suspect the only reason it hasn't happened is because no one rides trains here.

        I can't wait until the federal government decides to try to build fencing around major rail corridors.

  • California High Speed Rail Authority officials said the train network would generate 600,000 construction-related jobs while it was being planned and built and that it would create another 450,000 permanent jobs during its operation.

    450,000 new permanent jobs sounds an awful lot. Are they going to pay people to travel on the train or what?

  • ... it was supposed to cost $10 billion ...
  • Trains can be an excellent means of transportation. But, as AC post 29622359 [slashdot.org] points out, the current system is broken.

    If you have a well-integrated public transit system already in place; with the train station is a well-served, centrally located place in the city; on BOTH ends, then it would be great. Taking a train between Seattle and Portland is great. Both cities have excellent public transit systems, and both cities' main train stations are located in well-served areas of downtown. If a bullet got

    • by s73v3r (963317)

      The public transportation problems you mentioned currently exist with flying too.

      And I think trains are better for regional travel anyway, not cross country.

  • Wow (Score:2, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward

    'We're traveling on our trains at the same speed as 100 years ago,' the governor said.

    So trains traveled 5 mph a 100 years ago?

  • Just trying to get through San Francisco during rush hour takes longer than the train that can make it all the way to san diego!
  • by tsotha (720379)

    There comes a point when 'let's add another lane' is no longer a viable option!

    No, actually, if you're willing to spend 45 billion dollars you can add lanes pretty much indefinitely. Why the hell does it cost this much to build a few hundred miles of track? The Chinese were able to build maglev track for about the same cost per mile.

    Maybe we should have the Chinese build it. What the hell, they did okay building railroads the first time around.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Martin Blank (154261)

      if you're willing to spend 45 billion dollars you can add lanes pretty much indefinitely

      Not really, no. At least not in California. New freeways here cost $1 billion per mile, and that was an estimate from ten years ago. A project to add one lane in each direction to the 91 freeway between the 71 (a freeway) and 241 (a tollway) is nearly $100 million for a mere five miles, and that's in an area where not much has to happen in the way of eminent domain. When you get into city areas with houses and busine

  • by HiThere (15173) <`charleshixsn' `at' `earthlink.net'> on Friday October 02, 2009 @06:55PM (#29622553)

    Amtrak is insanely costly compared to what the train service used to cost. I don't see this as being any cheaper. And the current right-of-way isn't well maintained. This would need even more in the way of maintenance than the current system.

    The rail lines right-of-way is owned by the freight haulers. They put their priorities first, and passenger trains regularly get delayed. The last time I rode the train from Nevada to Berkeley (well, Emeryville...the Berkeley station was closed) the train was delayed for over four hours. With no explanation or estimate of when the problem would be fixed.

    Yes, we definitely need better train service. But lets go for improvements that we know can reasonably be made. Like the Dept. of Transportation in charge of the right of way, so that freight trains can't arbitrarily pre-empt the lines from passengers. (I'm not thrilled with how the DOT maintains highways, but it does a better job than the railways do with their right of way.)

    • by Idiomatick (976696) on Friday October 02, 2009 @08:24PM (#29623215)
      :/ In Japan I could travel 600km in 3hours for 120$. With no ticket before hand and trains leaving every 15minutes. The whole time I was there I probably traveled 2500km on local and high speed lines. Likely 30 trips. And I spent a large amount of time in train stations for all these trips, In every station there are boards saying whether the trains are late or on time delayed. So I probably saw times for nearly 500 trains. I only saw one delay the whole time. The timer said it would be 48seconds late due to weather.

      Being used to transportation in North America, this amazed me more than any of the technology involved in the trains. Also the things were sparkly clean. I think it comes down to respect. They are willing to keep the trains and buses clean out of respect. I believe they make sure they are on time for the same reason.

      We aren't incompetent or too corrupt to get it done. North America simply isn't respectful enough for public transit.
    • by root_42 (103434) on Friday October 02, 2009 @09:36PM (#29623585) Homepage

      The rail lines right-of-way is owned by the freight haulers. They put their priorities first, and passenger trains regularly get delayed.

      High speed trains like the german ICE (used in a variety of countries, including China), the french TGV or the japanese bullet trains do not run on regular rails. Rails for speeds exceeding 200km/h need to be specially built. In Germany we have a high speed rail network, next to rails for slower moving trains. Similarly to a highway, you sometimes have 4 rails next to each other. Two for every direction and high or low speed. In cases where there are only 2 rails, the rains usually only go slow. So there should be no delay by freight trains or other slow trains on the high speed network.

  • by RanBato (214181) on Friday October 02, 2009 @07:02PM (#29622607)

    As pointed out in previous posts: Airlines are already subsidized. (As are the Auto makers). I would like to go as far as to say that a railroad would be competitive if you were to take out ALL subsidies given to the auto makers (road construction and direct subsidies) and Airlines (Airports, cheap planes due to defense contracts).
    Putting public money to work to build a railroad network is a good way to invest public money. it's a hell of a lot better than subsidizing bankrupt companies. It will make the US more competitive in manufacturing (cheaper freight transport), services (cheaper people transport). And building the whole system will provide a lot of meaning full jobs.

  • by jcr (53032) <jcrNO@SPAMmac.com> on Friday October 02, 2009 @07:03PM (#29622623) Journal

    There comes a point when 'let's add another lane' is no longer a viable option!"

    There also comes a point when "let's have another horrendously expensive tax-sucking boondoggle" is no longer a viable option.

    -jcr

    • by Toreo asesino (951231) on Friday October 02, 2009 @07:23PM (#29622785) Journal

      There also comes a point when "let's have another horrendously expensive tax-sucking boondoggle" is no longer a viable option.

      Look at Spain's high-speed rail network for an example of how it can only pay for itself, but actually earn a decent profit too. The AVE in Spain is the perfect case-study government funded decent rail infrastructure can really work out really well for everyone except perhaps the airlines - they charge x2 what airlines charge because they know they can fill trains after train even without coming close to competing on price.

      High speed rail really is the future if you have the vision to invest in it.

      http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/europe/8268003.stm [bbc.co.uk]

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