Rail

California has a high-speed rail project

Posted on September 21, 2012 by Rod Diridon Sr.

Page 1 of 2

California’s state legislature authorized the first sale of $4.6 billion of the $9 billion voter-approved 2008 Proposition 1A High-Speed Rail (HSR) bonds. That matches and commits the state’s $3.4 billion federal HSR stimulus grant.

Indeed, 32 states are receiving federal HSR funding, 11 of which have Republican governors. California’s last four governors supported HSR; two Republicans and two Democrats. This non-partisan project has begun, so let’s step back and apply some logic.

Early cost projections
Certainly the California project suffered from a sequence of business plans that give the impression of increased costs. Most of those apparent increases result from two understandable phenomena.

First, the early cost projections were based on current-year (1998 or early 2000) fund values. The new projections are based on year-of-construction or 2029 fund values. That adds nearly 30 years of compounded cost-of-living fund value increases, about one-third of the total cost, but is more conservative and credible.

The second phenomenon was that early cost projections were based on average costs-per-mile not considering potential significant elevated or underground sections. Later, detailed planning with each community revealed that many desired elevated or depressed tracks, multiple times more expensive. So, the project costs increased to meet the communities’ desires, as should be the case with a world-class state’s transportation system. The result is the current $68 billion estimate for a 520-mile system from Anaheim via Los Angeles’ Union Station, the Central Valley, San Jose, and to San Francisco’s new TransBay Terminal. That cost-per-mile compares favorably with the other HSR projects around the world and quite favorably with the 427-mile, $151 billion proposed HSR Acela upgrade from Boston to New York; Philadelphia; and Washington, D.C.

Why not spend the HSR funds on education, health care and other threatened state programs? The HSR funds can be spent only on HSR. The $3.4 billion in federal stimulus funds, if not committed by the end of the year, will be returned and distributed to the other 12 designated national HSR corridors. The $9 billion in state Proposition 1A bonds were voter-approved only for HSR; use it for HSR, or lose it. Yet the investment of those billions right now converts the unemployed into local, state and federal taxpayers and rekindles the flagging local economy in the most economically devastated portion of California. President Roosevelt would be proud.

But the U.S. can’t afford it!
New England needs the Acela Corridor upgrade, as does California need HSR. How can every other industrialized country in the world, and many emerging countries, afford HSR, but the world’s richest country cannot? Over 30 HSR systems currently operate worldwide, most with a profit after operating and maintenance costs, with many more in planning or construction. Only the U.S. does not. And, not coincidentally, according to Tom Brokaw in the June issue of Discovery, the U.S. pays more than $5 billion per week to import foreign oil. And, according to the National Geographic, with only 4% of the world’s population, the U.S. creates nearly 30% of the world’s greenhouse gases.

View comments or post a comment on this story. (0 Comments)

More News

Alstom awarded contract for 25 more 'Jazz' trains

The new orders, which are exercised as two options under a contract signed in 2012, bring Trenitalia’s mostly Italian Jazz fleet to 95 trainsets.

Japanese maglev train breaks own speed record

The train reached 375 miles per hour in a test run on Tuesday, surpassing its previous record of 361 miles per hour set in 2003. The train traveled for just over a mile at a speed exceeding 373 miles per hour.

VRE making first service expansion in 23 years

The $3.4 million North Virginia station is the first of several major projects the agency is pursuing as part of its goal to double ridership by 2040. Next month, it will launch a mobile app to give riders the option of purchasing and showing tickets via smartphones, and it will add a train to the Fredericksburg Line this summer.

N.Y. subway ridership reaches 65-year high

The increased number of customers creates challenges for the MTA to operate the subway system while minimizing delays, crowding and inconvenience. The subway system has traditionally performed maintenance work during off-peak hours, which are now experiencing record ridership.

Mass. Gov. to unveil sweeping MBTA reforms

Gov. Charlie Baker recently secured the resignations of the six Patrick administration appointees on the state transportation board and had a "clarifying" conversation with the MBTA’s interim boss Frank DePaola after he went public with concerns about the governor’s plan.

See More News

Post a Comment

Post Comment

Comments (0)

More From The World's Largest Fleet Publisher

Automotive Fleet

The Car and truck fleet and leasing management magazine

Business Fleet

managing 10-50 company vehicles

Fleet Financials

Executive vehicle management

Government Fleet

managing public sector vehicles & equipment

TruckingInfo.com

THE COMMERCIAL TRUCK INDUSTRY’S MOST IN-DEPTH INFORMATION SOURCE

Work Truck Magazine

The resource for managers of class 1-7 truck Fleets

Schoolbus Fleet

Serving school transportation professionals in the U.S. and Canada

LCT Magazine

Global Resource For Limousine and Bus Transportation

Please sign in or register to .    Close