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California High-Speed Rail Project - a Train Without Tracks [F2 165]

Updated on June 18, 2019

CA High Speed Rail Project

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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.


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    • bradmasterOCcal profile imageAUTHOR


      19 months ago

      November 26, 2018 7:27AM

      Just published this hub

      before publishing there were


      hub score of 51


    • bradmasterOCcal profile imageAUTHOR


      2 years ago


      I like the idea of a high speed rail but you are correct it is very poorly executed. Unfortunately, it will only get worse as the project continues.

      The only thing that CA knows how to do well is increase taxes.

      Thanks for reading and commenting.

    • Robert Sacchi profile image

      Robert Sacchi 

      2 years ago

      It seems it was a bad idea that is being poorly executed. Do you think California will do anything that would improve the situation?

    • bradmasterOCcal profile imageAUTHOR


      2 years ago

      Need Some Goals?

      Articles with these attributes typically get 300% more traffic.











      2103 words in this article after today's update

    • bradmasterOCcal profile imageAUTHOR


      2 years ago

      the government both the federal, and the State of California have made the idea of a high speed bullet train an economic nightmare. The cost of the bullet train is enormous compared to its actual immediate value. The cost of the venture is only a small part of the costs of running the train, and maintaining five hundred miles of track. Neither governments are good at costing projects, completing them on time, or even completing them in many cases.

      Were this before the peaks ut through the 1950s, then both governments would be more capable of these monster projects. But a lot of that muscle has turned to flab from avoiding doing any of these big projects.

      So why do I want California to have this very fast, state of the art high speed train going from Los Angeles to San Francisco in California. It is for the same reason why we rebuit the World Trade Center, and that reason is pride. There was a time in our history when no country in the world could outdo us. We held the best cars, buildings, bridges, tunnels, airplanes, roadways, etc., but today we are getting are imaginary clocks cleaned by countries all around the world.

      China is accomplishing very amazing construction projects including the High Speed Train. Take a look at what they have done in Shanghai, a city of 23 million people. Done physically look at it because the smog is intense.

      The accomplishments found in Dubai are amazing. From their airport to the huge buildings, and the island they created from the water to house a skyscraper. I could go on and on but that would only depress us, I know it depresses me.

      The US is filled with aging highways, bridges, and tunnels that need fixing or replacing. There is a shortage of dams, or other means of storing water for the over 338 million people in this country. The highways of every urban, and even small towns across the country are gridlocked during the work commute.

      Our electrical grid should qualify as an heirloom, or the work of an ancient civilization. The list of the old, broken, and unfulfilled promises of things to be done in future go on and on.

      China is doing a pretty good job in trying to become a super power to challenge the United States. We at the same time are slowing down, as they increase their efforts.

      So what is the importance of a very costly, late to the party, and construction nightmare to the country? Even though it only showcases California, it represents that the United States has not given up on its stature as a super power.

      It is the same reason why we had to rebuild the World Trade Center building, it is pride in our country even though it stands only in New York City.

      Try and get past the absurdity of how the government procrastinates for decades on anything that might cause rough waters in their bureaucratic simpleton existence. Look forward to something that will boost the accomplishments of the United States. These economic issues will always pervade the government, but now there is an opportunity to sieze the moment. I agree with you, if you think that the government sponsorship of any big project, especially the California Bullet Train is a step towards failure. That is a problem that we need to solve at the voting polls.

      I was looking at the New York World Fair of 1939 on the Internet, and I was amazed at how far that we missed its view on how the future would look even in the 1990s much less today in 2015. Of course not all their ideas were useful, but at least they had a vision. What is our vision for the United States today?


      The United States has one high speed train, and I wouldn’t say it is high speed rail. It shares existing tracks with other trains. It is not strange that is services Washington DC. Apparently, where there is a congressmen there is a way around things.

      But for the California High Speed Bullet Train, it has aged thirty years on the ballot and on the budget. The price for this Los Angeles to San Francisco high speed train is about seventy million dollars. Of course Californians know that is a low ball figure.

      The countries outside the United States already have high speed rails for years. It should be no surprise that Asia and specifically China that has the most miles already built. Even Europe has their share of the high speed commuting trains.

      The fastest of these high speed trains are the Harmony CRH 380A, and the Shaghai Maglev.


      Starting its commercial run in 2004, it runs at about 156 miles per hour, but it can run at the top speed of 280 miles per hour.

      HARMONY CRH 380A

      This is another Shanghai train, and it went into service in 2010. It has an operational maximum speed of 303 miles per hour. It runs daily on its route.

      OTHER HIGH SPEED TRAINS that are close to the first two.


      Zefiro 380

      Taigo Avril


      While the bullet train will shoot along at 220 miles per hour, the scheldules completion will be in 2029. The cost of the project will be astronomical by that year. Even if that might be the year of completion.

      The train has already waiting thirty years to get started, and now another fourteen or fifteen years to get finished is just too long to wait. I understand that it is 500 miles between Los Angeles and San Francisco as the crow flies, but they haven’t even purchased the right away for the route.

      To give you an idea how California projects go, there is an unfinished freeway in Southern California. Actually, it is a Toll Road, free is no longer available here in California. Anyway, this road would have connected to the I5 freeway which at that point is the only road to get to San Diego. The toll road stopped short of its connection by about eight miles. It has not progressed in the last twenty years. Apparently there is some sort of environmental problem. The reasons are not important for this hub, but the result is important.

      I am sure that over the spam of five hundred miles the path of the California Bullet Train will have at least several environmental problems. Especially when you consider that fourteen years is a long time, and California keeps growing. California went from twenty million people to close to forty million people in less than three decades.

      The lack of a real high speed rail train in the United States puts us behind the Asians and the Europeans, even Italy has one. I discounted the Acela as it is only `125 miles per hour.


      I would not accept the 2029 deadline as reasonable. It is too long to wait, and too many things can drive up the costs. Back in the 1990s this cost estimate was 33 billion dollars.

      Concurrent rather than sequential construction.

      • If they are going to do it, then do it all across the route. This shouldn’t be a sequential process. Think of it like the Chunnel only without water between the starting point and the destination.

      • Commit to the project, and buy all the land rights necessary, this will prevent delays further long into the system.

      • I would say that breaking up the 500 miles into at least ten segments would make more sense than finishing a segment before going to the next segment.

      The fifty mile segments starting at Los Angeles, and San Francisco would be useful as high speed commutes while the other segments are also being built. The Los Angeles starting point, and the San Francisco starting point would be the high density commuter areas, not Fresno.

      • San Francisco to San Jose and Los Angeles to Palmdale have huge populations that could use commuter high speed rail.

      • These ten segments could be prioritized based on commuter density, making sure that even if the entire route is not completed on time, that the high density segments would be completed. This would also be good segments to do the trial runs, and even better with real commuters.

      Connection to All Major Airports

      • There are five major airports in the Los Angeles Area and none of them have train service. While these airports don’t need a high speed rail, they should be indirectly connected with the High Speed Rail Station.

      • The Disney Monorail system built in 1955 could be the design inspiration to use a monorail connecting all the major

    • bradmasterOCcal profile imageAUTHOR


      2 years ago


      I believe that the Texas and Florida high speed trains are the way that we in CA should be doing it.

      A high speed train in S CA would bring the auto commuters that live in SD and work in LA and vice versa a faster commute. The same is true for N CA between SF and San Jose.

      And if we tied it into LAX with regular train service it would be better than traveling the grid lock freeways.

      But what does Gov Jerry Brown do, the train starts in the central valley, and there really is no need for anyone to go to Sacramento. Take a look at the map that I put in the front of the article. Take the I5 and the right away is already there. The I99 is where they are having right of way disputes.


    • profile image


      2 years ago

      Florida's high speed rail is a private enterprise, this spares Floridians from footing the bill for a politicized rail project built to satisfy powerful people. There are runs being planned on the Ft. Lauderdale-West Palm Beach leg soon. Ultimately, the route is to run from Miami to Orlando, and if successful, will eventually run to the Tampa/St. Petersburg area.

    • bradmasterOCcal profile imageAUTHOR


      2 years ago

      Many countries have developed high-speed rail to connect major cities, including Austria, Belgium, China, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Poland, Portugal, Russia, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, Taiwan, Turkey, United Kingdom, United States and Uzbekistan. Only in Europe does HSR cross international borders. China has 22,000 kilometers (14,000 miles) of HSR as of end December 2016, accounting for two-thirds of the world's total.

      While high-speed rail is most often designed for passenger travel, some high-speed systems also offer freight service.

      Only High speed system in Japan is referred to as Bullet trains.

    • bradmasterOCcal profile imageAUTHOR


      2 years ago

      Correction, the CA population estimate for 2017 is almost 40 million people. As the population keeps growing the number of drivers and vehicles on the roadways will continue to increase.

      High speed rails going between Sand Diego and San Francisco will be more important as an alternative to driving or flying.

    • bradmasterOCcal profile imageAUTHOR


      2 years ago

      Seriously, 35 million Californians not interested in the state of CA spending over $64 billion on the high speed rail and not a single comment.


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