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California High Speed Rail Project - $64 billion and rising

Updated on November 7, 2017

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.

The California High Speed Rail at Sacramento - This one is only an empty shell

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 image

      bradmasterOCcal 3 weeks ago from Orange County California

      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.