California High-Speed Rail Project - a Train Without Tracks [F2 165]
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Latest Update on CA High Speed Rail
California High-Speed Rail Project - $70 Billion and Today's Estimate Is Just Below $100 Billion
On Tuesday, May 29, the California High-Speed Rail Authority (Authority) and Tree Fresno began the first phase of tree planting at West Fresno Middle School.
Is this really the best update on the High Speed Rail project?
April 26. 2018 update
Remember in school you learned about Alaska and someone called Seward, and how they called it Seward Follies. Well today we have replaced Seward as the scape goat with Governor Jerry Brown.
- Brown follies also known as the California High Speed Train will replace Seward Follies in the history books. While less powerful and less rich countries around the world have working high speed trains, the US has the Acela. And that was only done to get congressmen from the Eastern Seaboard to Washington DC.
Here is the story.
In 2009, Proposition 1A's passage, the rail authority anticipated commencing construction in 2012 on a rail system for electric trains dashing between SF and LA by way of the San Joaquin Valley.
Keep in mind it is now 2018, and one has to ask the question why is the High Speed Rail stopping at all the cities along the way.
Going through all these cities is the main cause of delay because of getting the rights to the land, and the resistance of the owners of the land.
- Starting in the middle of the route for a 119 mile segment doesn't make any sense, because the high population that would like to use the train are in the ends of the route.
- And actually the extension from LA to San Diego is not going to be done until at least 2029, twenty years after the start of the project.
- LA to San Diego has a lot of commuters and a high speed rail would ease the car traffic through this journey. Because southern and northern California have dense populations and there are few major roads or freeways that can be used to get from point A to point B the traffic congestion is gridlock.
A better plan
- Going from LA to San Jose on the high speed rail should have taken the same path as Interstate 5 which in the late 1960s was built to avoid Highway 99 and its population.
- Yet, Gov Brown chooses to put the HSR along the same path a Highway 99.
- Using Interstate 5 would have made the path more direct, and there is plenty of room along side it to add the HSR.
- That means miles would be less.
- The costs would be lower because the land is already acquired.
- And the speed of the trains could be at their maximum.
But the even better plan
Start at both ends
There is about the same length of over 100 miles that could have been built first to connect SF with San Jose, and Los Angeles to San Diego. These are heavily traveled commuter routes. And they would be able to take people from the gridlocked roads to the high speed rail.
- And instead of waiting for the entire HSR route of 600 plus miles to be completed these two segments could be servicing passengers while the valley route is being completed.
LA I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I San Diego
The current plan
- Those trains were expected to carry passengers by 2020.
- Now, the earliest that trains are proposed to move passengers is 2022,
- and then only in what the rail authority has dubbed its “initial operating segment” between Merced and Burbank.
- The prospect for a nonstop, one-seat ride from downtown Los Angeles to San Francisco without switching trains isn’t forecast until 2028 at the earliest.
- And there is no projected schedule for developing Phase 2 of the system, which would extend routes to Sacramento, the Inland Empire and San Diego — additions that once were forecast for completion by 2030.
In the meantime, there is are logistical, financial, political and legal challenges that threaten to derail what is widely regarded as the largest infrastructure project in California’s history.
What is Gov Brown doing now?
Governor Brown had the gas tax increased, as well as the vehicle registration.
Why did he do that?
- Because with 20 million people driving in CA out of the over 38 million people living in the state, it is a lot of money.
- Money he claims are needed for the roads, but where did the existing gas tax and vehicle registrations fees go, should they have gone to the roads.
- Looking around CA, we don't see that revenue anywhere that can be driven!
The new projected number for the California High Speed Train is $70 billion
- The initial 600 miles is not projected to be completed until 2029, and the spur to Sacramento and San Diego not until 2040!
We don't need to go to Sacramento, but San Diego should be one of the priorities of the project. This about one hundred miles from San Diego to Los Angeles is a high population route. There are many commuters between these two cities, as well as tourists and other potential riders.
- The population of California is reaching 40 million, and like bunny rabbits this number will probably reach 50 million by 2029, and who knows what it will be in 2040.
- One thing for sure, the California High Speed Train is already obsolete or it won't really help the traffic congestion by the time it is completed.
Instead of the HST being used as some sort of annuity and retirement plan, it would be better served if it was completed much faster.
This can be done by putting more assets and resources using a concurrent building process. 60 construction companies doing 10 miles each.
The California High Speed Rail at Sacramento - This one is only an empty shell
Will Texas and Florida do a better job of bringing High Speed Train service to their State, than California
Texas and Florida have committed to a High Speed Train service that will be two hundred and forty miles in length. They have made more progress than did California.
Yes, California's High Speed Train service will be triple in length, but it is doubtful that they will get 240 miles of it done before Texas or Florida.
California High Speed Rail is an Oxymoron
Whether you are For or Against a California Bullet Train. Wouldn't you like your government and politicians to at least complete it. After all, it is $64 billion that could be put to a better use than a Train that doesn't have tracks.
The California High Speed Rail Bond was passed in 2008, and not a single foot of track is down. The sixty four billion dollar project is stuck in the middle of the California Central Valley hundreds of miles away from the real bulk of the population.
San Francisco and Silicon Valley in northern California, and Los Angeles California is where the bulk of the California population lives. It is also the places that need the high speed rail the most. So why did California politicians and the no accomplishment governor Jerry Brown decide to start in the Central Valley?
- Jerry Brown is a politician, a lawyer, and a one time mayor. What qualifications does that give him to complete a high speed rail project extending more than six hundred miles? In my opinion, it gives him no expertise, and he has not completed any mega projects so he has no credibility. Yet, he was the mastermind of creating this high speed rail project for California.
The latest estimate for completion of this project is 2029.
Considering that today is 2017, it has been in the making for nine years. Today there is not a single foot of rail for the train, nor is there a train that is not out of the design stage to run on it, even if there were tracks.
The population of California has doubled since the nineteen eighties to over thirty five million people. Today southern California has over 22 million people while the San Francisco, San Jose northern California area has under 4 million people.
- Both these Northern and Southern California areas have limited flexibility on traversing the areal This is due to geography including water and mountains. Adding a high speed rail to these areas would help the traffic and the commuters.
Why do I think that the Central Valley was the wrong place to start for the CA hi speed rail?
Which part of California needs the high speed rail?
This is the biggest reason to choose Southern California as the starting point for the project. Because the northern California area of San Francisco and San Jose have the next highest population density, I would suggest starting simultaneously at both end points of the project.
Population increase in California versus completion time of 2029 for the high speed rail would dictate more than just two simultaneous start points. The major increases in the population of California would be in the starting and end points of the project. The object would be to get this two points up and running first while spooling up the middle of the project.
- I would suggest a minimum of 12 starting points for the project, with even more for the high density population end points.
- For example, San Diego to Los Angeles would be broken up into 6 start points to cover the one hundred and twenty mile distance. This is also the most densely built area in the project.
- San Francisco and San Jose would be at least three possibly six start points to cover the sixty miles distance.
The benefit of these end points with multiple start points.
- The major benefit is that the high population density of these areas could benefit from being independently completed before the entire distance is finished.
- Up and running faster than the 2029 current estimated project completion.
- Problems, issues and their solutions will rise and be solved concurrently, rather than relying on a sequential process.
- Any leg of the rail that is up an running could be carrying passengers while the other segments are being built.
- This multiple start method would require dedicated contractor companies for each single segment. Each contractor then has their own equipment, and resources, this would also minimize delays waiting for vendors.
Route change suggestion for the California High Speed Rail Project
Currently the route is going through the old highway 99 area in the Central Valley. I would change it to follow Interstate highway 5 which parallels the 99 by tens of miles apart.
- Highway 99 is densely population.
- Interstate 5 was built in the 1960s and even today is sparsely, very sparsely populated.
- The rail project should be dedicated rail and raised about ground to avoid any contact with other transportation and wild life.
- Posts at optimal lengths apart could support the rail bed suspension. This is a high speed rail but it needs to have both directions active at the same time. No track sharing.
Hubs to connection to highway 99 communities would be connected to the high speed rail stations. This way connection can still be made to the cities that are on the original route, but without incurring all the issues and complaints from these cities. This has been one of the major delays to date for the high speed rail project.
Now this has only been a cursory look at improving the current approved system, but I suggest it is a major improvement and it would result in a faster completion of the project than is estimated today.
In fact, there is no real guarantee that today's estimate of 2029 as the completion date. Instead of the usual bureaucratic method of treating mega projects as a retirement function, my suggestion gets the project completed faster. It also has the benefit of using completed segments which the project is still active.
Los Angeles to Las Vegas
The high speed rail between these two cities has been on and off again for decades. It is apparently now being considered once again. This can augment the San Diego to San Francisco project.
It is also about half the distance and it it mostly going through unpopulated areas.
Advantage of Hi Speed Rail over Air Travel
The airports especially in California as miles from the city center, while the railroad takes you right into the city.
- For example, flying from San Francisco to LAX you are more than an hour based on traffic from the city. The time difference of flying which is about one hour, compared to the under three hours by high speed rail is not that great. Consider all the factors that it takes to get on a plane today. Based on this, what is the real time advantage of flying?
By the way, the Los Angeles area has five airports, and none of them are connected by train.