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California Requests Stimulus Funding For Bullet Train

Soulskill posted more than 4 years ago | from the does-it-come-with-a-silencer dept.

Transportation 567

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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567 comments

It will never happen (4, Insightful)

winkydink (650484) | more than 4 years ago | (#29622243)

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:It will never happen (2, Insightful)

pixelpusher220 (529617) | more than 4 years ago | (#29622295)

Likely true, but if California is able to do this, any state can.

Re:It will never happen (3, Insightful)

maharb (1534501) | more than 4 years ago | (#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:It will never happen (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29622641)

Last I heard, California was flirting with bankruptcy, so I doubt they have the money...

Re:It will never happen (1)

expressovi (952511) | more than 4 years ago | (#29622297)

Also didn't we (the state of California) just have a huge budget deficit? I'm all for new trains but maybe we should attend to what's already on our plate.....consistently their are some great deals on regional flights between our states major airports....idk

Re:It will never happen (1)

Brian Gordon (987471) | more than 4 years ago | (#29622319)

Well the $4.7 billion would come from the federal government.

Re:It will never happen (1)

Starlon (1492461) | more than 4 years ago | (#29622397)

As if our federal government was in a reasonable position to fund a bullet train project for California, or any other state for that matter.

This all reminds me of Obama's "Ask me questions" website. At the top of all questions was "Lightrails and Bullet Trains" -- as if that was the most popular topic, above marijuana legalization, and even above single payer health care. I wrote Obama an email suggesting that he concern himself over those other topics, rather than looking at America as if it were his toy train set. The chance of him reading that, however, is quite low.

Yeah, the US govt is just rolling in money... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29622409)

It's not like the US Govt is having problems keeping a balanced budget.

Re:Yeah, the US govt is just rolling in money... (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29622465)

It's not like the US Govt is having problems keeping a balanced budget.

Stop having so many wars... they're expensive! Iraq and Afghanistan, ~$150 billion a year. How many bullet train systems could you buy?

Re:Yeah, the US govt is just rolling in money... (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29622517)

It's not like the US Govt is having problems keeping a balanced budget.

Stop having so many wars... they're expensive! Iraq and Afghanistan, ~$150 billion a year. How many bullet train systems could you buy?

31.914893617021276595744680851064

Re:It will never happen (1)

commodore64_love (1445365) | more than 4 years ago | (#29622635)

>>Well the $4.7 billion would come from our [communist Chinese buddies overseas].

Fixed.

So this bullet train that covers 800 miles will carry how many of California's population each year? 0.1%? Yeah that's a wise investment of non-existent american dollars. Wouldn't it make more sense to lay-down an I-3 to run semi-parallel to I-5, and thereby carry any excess traffic between these two cities? It would be far cheaper, far more flexible in design (cars aren't tied to rails), use existing equipment (cars and macadam and road signs and lighting), and could even be made environmentally-friendly by designating the new I-3 "for hybrids or electrics only".

Also before someone jumps on the "Trains are more efficent" bandwagon:
- The national average for cars is approximately 25 miles per gallon
- The national average for passenger trains is the same energy equivalence (25 people-miles per gallon).
- So if you simply upgrade your car to a hybrid (40-70mpg), then you are more-efficient than a passenger train. Or if you carpool and carry a passenger, your car's efficiency jumps to 50 people-miles per gallon.... again more efficient than a passenger train.

(dons kevlar shield) I'm about to get flamed for what I just said.
It's similar to how Christians used to burn witches.

Re:It will never happen (1, Insightful)

Moryath (553296) | more than 4 years ago | (#29622301)

I simply worry about their ability to get it done at all.

Not the NIMBY's and the environmental impact, just the corruption factor and the fact that it's Tax-N-Spendifornia. If they were in the black it'd be one thing but they want the federal gov't to pay for it when they are deep in a major budget crisis? If I were the feds (or the rest of the nation) I'd say "screw you, come back when you can manage your own budget and maybe we'll talk."

Re:It will never happen (2, Insightful)

superdave80 (1226592) | more than 4 years ago | (#29622531)

The Feds didn't worry about mismanagement by banks or auto companies, why would they worry about mismanagement by state governments?

"Oh, you screwed up and have no money? Back your large truck up and we'll shovel in money until you say stop... we just have to wait for the printer to finish printing out more."

Re:It will never happen (5, Informative)

Thomas M Hughes (463951) | more than 4 years ago | (#29622545)

I simply worry about their ability to get it done at all.
Not the NIMBY's and the environmental impact, just the corruption factor and the fact that it's Tax-N-Spendifornia. If they were in the black it'd be one thing but they want the federal gov't to pay for it when they are deep in a major budget crisis? If I were the feds (or the rest of the nation) I'd say "screw you, come back when you can manage your own budget and maybe we'll talk."

I think you may be mistaking California for Massachusetts. If California were Tax-N-Spend, it wouldn't have a budget issue. The issue in California is that they can't tax. All budgets in California must (1) be balanced, and (2) be passed by a super-majority. The legislature's made up of the Senate consisting of 25 Democrats and 15 Republicans; and the Assembly having 49 Democrats, 29 Republicans, 1 Independent, and 1 vacancy. So the Dems have a significant majority (and have since 1970), but not enough to pass a budget on their own. And the California Republican party has maintained incredible party discipline for a while now, absolutely refusing any increases in taxes, period. So, obtaining taxes for services has become essentially impossible.

This has been complicated by being "tough on crime." Things like Three Strikes laws have dramatically increased California's prison population in recent years. This has resulted in an increase in funds that must go to prisons. This, combined with a refusal to increase taxes means that much more of the limited government revenue is going into the black hole that is the prison system. Because of this, pretty much every aspect of California's selection of services have been significantly cut back for at least a decade now. The impact on the University of California in particular has been huge; they lost 20% of their funding in this past year alone, on top of significant cuts before the budget crisis. (The increase in tough on crime laws is bi-partisan, the democrats have their fair share of blame in this one. The lack of increase in taxes to cover for shortfall is a R-party issue entirely though.).

Re:It will never happen (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29622303)

the one good thing that MIGHT come from this is forcing at least some of the more reasonable environmental NGOs to recognize the inherent folly of blind and blanket protection of anything living. Maybe they'll wake up and realize life is full of trade offs and maybe keeping some planes out of the skies or cars off the road is worth fragmenting the habitat of some forgotten amphibian which may or may not even still exist.

Re:It will never happen (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29622327)

kinda hard to do 200mph over the mountains and earthquake faults too.

Re:It will never happen (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29622413)

Japan ? retard ..

Re:It will never happen (5, Informative)

pablodiazgutierrez (756813) | more than 4 years ago | (#29622455)

Spain, with its very similar geography, has shown this can be done on budget and (mostly) on time, so long as the project adheres to tested technology, as is the plan. And it's pretty popular. If Spain can do it, surely California can as well. It just takes willing

Re:It will never happen (2, Informative)

Volante3192 (953645) | more than 4 years ago | (#29622497)

Clearly you've never seen the San Joaquin Valley. Once you get past the Cajon Pass from the south it's all fault free, mountain free flat land all the way to Sacramento.

And it smells like asparagus. I hate the I-5...

Re:It will never happen (1)

Volante3192 (953645) | more than 4 years ago | (#29622511)

Damnit, Tejon Pass. Yeah, someone's gonna correct me on that one before /.'s "You must wait longer!!" filter lets me reply...

Re:It will never happen (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29622407)

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

Agreed. It's like all the other $$$ I voted for--the stuff still isn't built and that was back in the 90s.

Re:It will never happen (1)

interkin3tic (1469267) | more than 4 years ago | (#29622555)

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 (4, Funny)

MightyMartian (840721) | more than 4 years ago | (#29622255)

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

Re:Hmmm (1)

geekoid (135745) | more than 4 years ago | (#29622343)

So your proposing a one way train then?

Re:Hmmm (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29622385)

It'd make it more efficient. Think of all the man-power wasted having to evade border patrols when immigrants could just hop on a bullet train.

Re:Hmmm (1)

mateuscb (1052870) | more than 4 years ago | (#29622533)

I think an even better idea would be betwen LA and Las Vegas. You would def have more people doing that route than LA to San Fran. Granted the above post wa funny, but honestly throwing out some other ideas.

Re:Hmmm (1)

MorderVonAllem (931645) | more than 4 years ago | (#29622665)

The problem with that is when you have a train from La to Vegas it just means money can leave the state that much faster. I can't understand why Vegas itself hasn't gotten around to building a rail in that direction...

the eventual outcome (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29622293)

After spending $4.7 trillion, not billion, they will have a light rail between San Diego and San Francisco that travels at 50 MPH.

The plan is a BAD idea (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29622309)

When Arnold says American must catch up, he means it.

Arnold's plan involves a series of underground nukes along the San Andreas.

The 2 hour 40 commute is for the entire city of Los Angeles! With shorter LA-SF commutes expected after the initial commute.

Why? (1)

geekoid (135745) | more than 4 years ago | (#29622311)

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:Why? (2, Interesting)

TechyImmigrant (175943) | more than 4 years ago | (#29622353)

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.

Re:Why? (1)

shadowofwind (1209890) | more than 4 years ago | (#29622453)

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:Why? (1)

geekoid (135745) | more than 4 years ago | (#29622625)

In my experience? yes.

Re:Why? (2, Funny)

grcumb (781340) | more than 4 years ago | (#29622673)

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? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29622537)

There are many flights between Intel compounds and overseas....you going to suggest building a train for every destination? You also clearly don't know Portland, or you wouldn't be so sure about the locals there either.

None of this matters, tho, as the reasons that have kept high-speed public ground transportation out in the past will see that the future brings little change. Calif. will shoot itself in the foot once again.

Re:Why? (3, Insightful)

s73v3r (963317) | more than 4 years ago | (#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.

Re:Why? (1)

iceOlate (1094287) | more than 4 years ago | (#29622547)

I was thinking that as well. Perhaps if they STARTED with LA to San Diego, and then expanded from there. Then at least the project can already start generating some return as they complete other sections. After all, driving from LA to San Diego can take a long time with all the traffic in LA. I'm sure a lot of people would enjoy an express alternative such as this.

Fly Southwest (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#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.

Re:Fly Southwest (0)

Kral_Blbec (1201285) | more than 4 years ago | (#29622345)

Amtrak is subsizided by the feds. There IS a way that this could compete with airfare, just not fairly.

Re:Fly Southwest (5, Informative)

tirerim (1108567) | more than 4 years ago | (#29622379)

Amtrak is subsizided by the feds. There IS a way that this could compete with airfare, just not fairly.

Airlines get subsidized by the feds, too -- consider all the airlines that have been bailed out in the past twenty years (some of them multiple times), plus federal funding for airports.

Re:Fly Southwest (1)

captnbmoore (911895) | more than 4 years ago | (#29622621)

I do believe that southwest is the only airline to not do a bankruptcy. All the rest file like clockwork it seems.

Re:Fly Southwest (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29622419)

So it's not competition then, is it? Let's check the dictionary ... Nope, "curb-stomping because one side has infinite resources" (in this case money our government prints at will) is not in there as a definition for competition. I'm sick of seeing agencies operate as if they can lose infinite dollars.

Re:Fly Southwest (1)

zippthorne (748122) | more than 4 years ago | (#29622463)

And all the major cities on Amtrak routes have commuter flights between them which cost the same or less, are more frequent, and except for Boston - Providence, take much less time.

Amtrak doesn't compete with planes. Amtrak simply has found an alternate source of revenue that doesn't depend on actually satisfying customers.

Re:Fly Southwest (5, Insightful)

Daniel Dvorkin (106857) | more than 4 years ago | (#29622515)

Whereas airlines do everything all by their lonesome, right? No government assistance at all. Bold entrepeneurs, living the American dream, unlike those commie railroads.

GMAFB. Every major type of transportation -- air, road, rail, and water -- is dependent on public funds, in the US and everywhere else. Anti-rail zealots like to pretend that rail is inherently socialist and that air and road are inherently capitalist (water doesn't seem to enter into their thinking at all.) There's a deep irony here: the 19th-c. "rail barons" also liked to present themselves as bold, individualistic risk-takers, meanwhile sucking at the government teat.

When an airline builds and runs its own airport and ATC system, give me a call.

Re:Fly Southwest (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29622429)

Are you taking a Saturn V? That's the only vehicle I can think of that can traverse 500 miles in 1:25 (which is about 24,000mph).

Re:Fly Southwest (1)

s73v3r (963317) | more than 4 years ago | (#29622491)

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.

Re:Fly Southwest (1)

frosty_tsm (933163) | more than 4 years ago | (#29622601)

Also, he's not factoring in the 1-2 hours to get to the airport early.

Or dealing with TSA.

Or waiting for his checked bags to arrive at the baggage claim (something that takes 30-45 minutes in San Diego's tiny airport).

Re:Fly Southwest (1)

vijayiyer (728590) | more than 4 years ago | (#29622609)

My fiancée used to routinely commute from the SF Bay Area to to SoCal (Orange County) in 2 hours and 10 minutes door to door. We'd leave the house at 5:50, get to the airport at 6:05, use the express check in, and make the 6:30 flight to Orange County. She'd land at about 7:30, and be at work by 7:55. And this would cost $120 round trip if purchased in advance, or $240 the day of the flight at full price.
The tens of billions of dollars this would really cost, which is real money that we all have to pay, simply doesn't solve a real problem. Go price a train out in Europe on high speed rail to travel ~250 miles. It's not cheap (comparable to that $240 of the flight).

Re:Fly Southwest (1)

Frosty Piss (770223) | more than 4 years ago | (#29622551)

Crossing california is not practical on trains.

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

Re:Fly Southwest (4, Informative)

tonydiesel (658999) | more than 4 years ago | (#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...

Monorail!! (0, Troll)

loteck (533317) | more than 4 years ago | (#29622321)

I would draw comparisons between this and the Simpson's Monorail episode [wikipedia.org] , but at least the Monorail got built before they realized it was a gigantic waste of money. The bullet-train would simply be a financial quagmire for this fiscally irresponsible state.

Worth noting [reason.org] :

"Report details why high-speed rail won't meet ridership predictions, deliver on promised travel times, or meet emission reduction targets."

Re:Monorail!! (5, Insightful)

Daniel Dvorkin (106857) | more than 4 years ago | (#29622565)

You know, you might have missed this key fact, but the Simpsons monorail episode is a sixteen-year-old CARTOON. When the hell are the anti-rail twits going to stop treating it like a serious guide to transportation issues?

Oh, right, we still have people who think Frankenstein was a guide to science. Never mind. Carry on, then.

450000 permanent jobs created? (2)

gyepi (891047) | more than 4 years ago | (#29622335)

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?

Re:450000 permanent jobs created? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29622375)

447689 of them are to man the giant hamster wheels in the trains.

$45 Billion? With a B? (1)

black3d (1648913) | more than 4 years ago | (#29622357)

From the article, it says this is going to cost $45 billion to build. $45 BILLION? For 800 miles of high-speed tracks and trains? I can't see any concievable way, even if they had to purchases premium land the entire length rather than using state land, that there's any way to justify 56 million dollars per mile. International constructions have cost around one twentieth of this amount.

Re:$45 Billion? With a B? (5, Insightful)

Tmack (593755) | more than 4 years ago | (#29622457)

From the article, it says this is going to cost $45 billion to build. $45 BILLION? For 800 miles of high-speed tracks and trains? I can't see any concievable way, even if they had to purchases premium land the entire length rather than using state land, that there's any way to justify 56 million dollars per mile. International constructions have cost around one twentieth of this amount.

Lots of bridges, tunnels and filldirt.. Its already been kicked off of the SF Peninsula because they said it would be too expensive to go underground the whole way, and the only other way to have a 200+mph train go through high density residential areas is to elevate it, which the residents refused as an option. It would have shared the caltrain route, which already has long sections of elevated track (via10-20' of filldirt and fences on both sides) that effictively creates a berlin wall through neighborhoods. To keep people from "trespassing" they would have to elevate the whole line, and that pissed a bunch of people off (especially those in Atherton behind their wooden fences). Caltrain electrification will be done first, and highspeed rail, to be successful, would have to tie in to caltrain somewhere, or it would just be a train to nowhere.

-T

Re:$45 Billion? With a B? (1)

black3d (1648913) | more than 4 years ago | (#29622479)

Presuming elevation the entire length, that would set it back around $9 million per mile. Take into account land purchase and you'd see a sizeable increase on that. I'm simply disputing that $56 million per mile is necessary for both construction and upkeep. I'd have to wager a very large portion (50-60%) must be earmarked for beauracracy.

Re:$45 Billion? With a B? (2, Insightful)

tonydiesel (658999) | more than 4 years ago | (#29622581)

Actually, it hasn't been kicked off of the SF Peninsula... http://www.cahighspeedrail.ca.gov/map.htm [ca.gov] Quite the opposite, in fact.

Re:$45 Billion? With a B? (1)

WindBourne (631190) | more than 4 years ago | (#29622469)

Land in China does not cost the same price as in CA. Likewise, most places have stable land. This will require special construction to keep the train from jumping the track when one of their earthquake comes. And it costs money to build new stations. I suspect that if you look in EU, you will find that trains there who build on new lines costs more than 25B euro/mile.

Re:$45 Billion? With a B? (1)

black3d (1648913) | more than 4 years ago | (#29622559)

Seeking clarification only - do you mean 25 million per mile rather than 25 billion? That's claiming USD$36 billion per mile. Do you have any sources on that? I'm unable to find any European rail costing more than EUR 15 million per mile. And that includes the stations.

Re:$45 Billion? With a B? (3, Funny)

magarity (164372) | more than 4 years ago | (#29622493)

56 million dollars per mile
 
In California this breaks down to:
10 million per mile for environmental impact studies
20 million per mile in lawsuits related to the environmental impact studies
20 million per mile in kickbacks
56 million per mile in construction costs thanks to union labor wages
 
These will be the actual per-mile costs due to lowball estimating in order to get the project started and to take on a life of its own so it will be completed no matter what the final costs.

Re:$45 Billion? With a B? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29622587)

And how much did we recently shell out to the Wall St. giga-banks? To do what?

Re:$45 Billion? With a B? (2, Insightful)

geekoid (135745) | more than 4 years ago | (#29622647)

That's becasue it's not your area of expertise.

Civil project are expensive, very expensive.
They have to deal with roads, mountains , bridges, tunnels.
It's very expensive to build roads of any type. If you want them to last.

Here is how it will work (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29622359)

Okay,

So the high-speed train goes 220 MPH. Big deal.

Here is how a trip from San Francisco to Los Angeles would actually work for this train.

First of all it's going to be a high-profile target for terrorists. So, expect check-in situations exactly like the airport.

- Drive 30 minutes minimum to get to train station.

- Ride bus from train station parking lot to terminal. 15 minutes

- Check-in/security check/board time (just like an airport terminal). 60 minutes minimum.

- Travel high speed to Los Angeles (approximately 440 miles). 120 minutes or two hours.

- Gather bags checked, you don't think they are going to let your average family going to disneyland carry big bags onto a passenger car now do you? 30 minutes.

- Ride rental car shuttle bus to rental car location (includes wait time for shuttle bus). 30 minutes.

- Drive to Disneyland (or where-ever else in the Los Angeles area). Assume 30 minutes.

Total elapsed time is 315 minutes if my math is right. Or 5 and 1/4 hours. And this assumes there are no intermediate train stops along the way. Do you really think the train will pass by the largest city in the SF Bay area of CA (San Jose) without stopping? I don't think so, therefore add some station time.

Time to drive a car from San Francisco to Disneyland (which I have done many times) is about 6.5 hours.

So, what have you saved? About an hour of time.

What have you lost? You don't have your own car with you when you get there. You've been herded like cattle, poked and prodded by security. The train ticket is not going to be cheap, it will be, by necessity, "competitive" with an airline ticket. You will have a rental car expense (try doing ANYTHING in CA without a car, ha! ha!). The list can go on and on....

A fast train is pie-in-the sky thinking. It's not going to solve anything.

Just fly larger aircraft. An airbus A340 seats up to 800 and will do the same trip in 75 fewer minutes.

Save the billions spent on the proposed rail line and add a runway or two to the necessary airports at a much lower price.

There is plenty of airspace and capacity, use it properly.

Writen like someone who's not riden the train (4, Interesting)

stomv (80392) | more than 4 years ago | (#29622401)

Acela isn't as fast as that, but it's arguably a bigger security issue, as it runs through Boston, NYC, Philly, and DC downtowns.

It works just like a commuter rail train. You arrive at the station. The train pulls up, you've got a few minutes to get on, tops. You get on the train, grab a seat, throw your suitcase overhead or at the end of the car, and relax. Pull out your laptop, make a call, or sit in the quiet car for relaxation.

Everything in your scenario is pure FUD. I'd bet the ridership will match that of Acela on the East Coast -- lots of business riders, often going to and from on the same day.

yeah, just like amtrak (1)

daninaustin (985354) | more than 4 years ago | (#29622449)

I think it would operate a lot like amtrak... the us govt will sink tons of money into it and it will never come close to breaking even.

Re:yeah, just like amtrak (3, Insightful)

Ma8thew (861741) | more than 4 years ago | (#29622485)

Amtrak actually makes a little money. Unlike, say, the massive socialist US interstate system.

Re:yeah, just like amtrak (3, Insightful)

Daniel Dvorkin (106857) | more than 4 years ago | (#29622627)

I think it would operate a lot like amtrak... the us govt will sink tons of money into it and it will never come close to breaking even.

Kind of like airports and highways, yep.

Oh, but those are somehow magically different!

[sigh]

Actually, there is a difference. The federal government sinks tons of money into air and road travel, but it doesn't demand the kind of insane restrictions it imposes on rail (freight trains always get right-of-way over passenger trains, that kind of thing.) IOW, those systems aren't set up to fail the way Amtrak is. It's pretty impressive how well Amtrak manages to keep its major lines going when it has to deal with a system that is specifically designed not to work by anti-rail ideologues.

Re:Writen like someone who's not riden the train (2, Insightful)

wrook (134116) | more than 4 years ago | (#29622499)

The bullet trains in Japan are quite convenient, like you say. They run exactly on schedule almost all the time. About the only thing that stops them is earthquakes. I show up at the plat form 5 minutes before the train comes, put my large luggage in the storage area near the door, and sit down and relax. It is certainly a lot nicer than air travel.

The real problem is cost. I don't know how much the train would cost in California, but it is expensive here in Japan. A ticket to Tokyo from Shizuoka city (where I live -- a distance of 180km) is about $60 if I recall correctly. That's one way. I'm not sure Americans are willing to abandon their cars for something this expensive.

Re:Writen like someone who's not riden the train (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29622613)

You apparently don't understand the high value of a bullet train. Especially one that costs 40 billion.

It's a terrorist's dream. Who cares about Acela. It's barely high speed, as stated by Wikipedia:

> The scheduled transit time for the 5:00 a.m. departure from Washington, D.C., (the quickest stopping pattern) to Boston's South Station on Acela Express service is roughly 6 hours 36 minutes. Allowing for the fifteen-minute scheduled layover in New York City, the average speed is 72 mph (116 km/h) for the 456 miles (734 km) trip.

Also, please note that the average speed is 72 MPH on a 456 mile trip. Funny, the trip distance for Acela is about the same as that for San Francisco to L.A. And I can drive at a speed better than 72 mph between San Francisco and L.A.

The numbers don't add up no matter how you cut it.

Just fly and be done with it. Or drive.

Re:Here is how it will work (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29622417)

You sound like someone who has never taken a train before. I imagine riding this would be like any other high speed rail in the country, like the Acela. You buy a ticket and get on with basically whatever you want. It's nothing like an airport.

names for the lines (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29622361)

The northboard train will be called the Fruit Train, and the southbound train will be called the Nut Train.

Boondoggle (0, Redundant)

russotto (537200) | more than 4 years ago | (#29622365)

Cue the Simpson's Monorail song!

Re:Boondoggle (0)

MobileTatsu-NJG (946591) | more than 4 years ago | (#29622393)

Cue the Simpson's Monorail song!

Mono... D'oh!

Big mistake to do a French version (0)

WindBourne (631190) | more than 4 years ago | (#29622389)

Or any regular rail system. The last place that I want to be is in a train doing 150 MPH when an earthquake hits. I would much rather be in a maglev or monorail, both of which are elevated and fairly easily to isolate from an earthquake.

Re:Big mistake to do a French version (1)

Ma8thew (861741) | more than 4 years ago | (#29622525)

What? Both those rely on constant electricity. If the flow stops (due to, say, an earthquake) the train crashes down to the tracks. Whereas a conventional train can brake harmlessly to a halt [wikipedia.org] .

Re:Big mistake to do a French version (1)

geekoid (135745) | more than 4 years ago | (#29622677)

If I remember correctly, Maglev comes to a safe stop as well.

Monorail would also just slow to a stop.

WTS: Transrapid (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29622403)

cheap cheap!

Siemens

PS: There seems to be something wrong with the numbers. 4.7b is correct, but that's for 25miles not 800 (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Transrapid).

Re:WTS: Transrapid (1)

Tmack (593755) | more than 4 years ago | (#29622535)

cheap cheap!

Siemens

PS: There seems to be something wrong with the numbers. 4.7b is correct, but that's for 25miles not 800 (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Transrapid).

highspeed != maglev

The proposal is a standard wheels-on-rails rail line with bullet trains, ala the japanese bullets. see also: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/California_High-Speed_Rail [wikipedia.org]

Great (not really) (0)

schlick (73861) | more than 4 years ago | (#29622415)

Look, up here in norther California we don't like them southerners. They should stay where they are (and pay us for our water). The number of people commuting from NorCal to SoCal probably doesn't warrant a frickin' bullet train. Besides that would still be a 4 hour daily commute. We need more local mass transit, both in the north and the south. We need better routes and newer technology. A bullet train from SF to LA doesn't make sense.

Originally... (1)

CannonballHead (842625) | more than 4 years ago | (#29622423)

... it was supposed to cost $10 billion ...

Re:Originally... (1)

Martin Blank (154261) | more than 4 years ago | (#29622595)

Oh, no. That was the bond measure for the first part of it. The cleverly-written initiative left that part out unless you looked at it very closely.

Also, it's not supposed to go fully online until at least [i]2030[/i], and that's without factoring in any construction or litigation delays. Most people familiar with the project believe a more realistic timeline is 2040, if it ever gets that far.

I don't know, air fair is pretty cheap. (1, Informative)

voisine (153062) | more than 4 years ago | (#29622425)

Air fair from san francisco to san diego is $29 each way. That travels at 300+ mph.

wtf (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29622433)

Dude, seriously? Thats 112 million per square mile. How about they pay me to build one, I'll pop one up next to I5. I'll do it for a billion...

Trains are a great idea; for a full SYSTEM. (1)

Anonymous Freak (16973) | more than 4 years ago | (#29622439)

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 put in place between Seattle and Portland; the few dozen daily airline flights between the two cities would probably drop to just a handful.

Obviously, a good rail system is not a replacement for driving, when having your own car at the other end is important; but a properly designed and run rail system CAN be a truly cost-competitive replacement for airline travel in many instances.

The problem is that there is now no way we will get a properly designed and run rail system. Maybe in short spurts (The Pacific Northwest corridor, the Californian corridor, etc.) But not nationwide. We will *NEVER* see a transcontinental bullet. Hell, I think we'd see the pie-in-the-sky (or under-the-ocean, as the case may be,) trans-Pacific underwater vacuum-tube rail line before we see a transcontinental high-speed one.

Re:Trains are a great idea; for a full SYSTEM. (1)

s73v3r (963317) | more than 4 years ago | (#29622541)

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

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

Seems rather slow (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29622483)

2h 40m ??? Could do that in a car with an autobaun lane.

Wow (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29622489)

'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?

Trains Are Amazing (1)

Goalie_Ca (584234) | more than 4 years ago | (#29622509)

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!

Too expensive (1, Troll)

tsotha (720379) | more than 4 years ago | (#29622513)

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:Too expensive (2, Interesting)

Martin Blank (154261) | more than 4 years ago | (#29622663)

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 businesses, the numbers skyrocket.

2 Hours and 40 Minutes! (0)

vijayiyer (728590) | more than 4 years ago | (#29622543)

That's incredible! 2 Hours and 40 minutes with billions of dollars? And what can I do now that I couldn't do before with an airplane? A flight is about $120 round trip. Let's call it $200. The federal component of this funding alone would buy some 25 million flights.
For those who don't live in California, keep in mind that intra city public transit is horrible/non-existent - there's no additional convenience over an airport here.

It seems that the further we are in debt, the more ways people find to spend money we don't have.

Re:2 Hours and 40 Minutes! (1)

HalWasRight (857007) | more than 4 years ago | (#29622639)

And what can I do now that I couldn't do before with an airplane?

Sigh. Never been to Europe or Japan, eh? What you can do is show up at the train station and just get on. No miles and miles from where you park or get off of mass transit because the train station is smaller than an airport. This is America and the terrorists have won so we'll probably have security theater, but it won't rise to the stupidity of what you have at airports -- you can't hijack a train and fly it into a national monument. I guess it is hard to explain just how much more convenient train travel is compared to airplanes to those who have never experienced it.

Re:2 Hours and 40 Minutes! (1)

Fulcrum of Evil (560260) | more than 4 years ago | (#29622675)

And what can I do now that I couldn't do before with an airplane?

Carry a soda bottle to your seat. Get there without 2 hours of security theatre. Not pay $50 for your luggage.

SHOULD it happen? I'm not convinced. (4, Insightful)

HiThere (15173) | more than 4 years ago | (#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.)

This makes a lot of sense (4, Insightful)

RanBato (214181) | more than 4 years ago | (#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.

Re:This makes a lot of sense (1)

jcr (53032) | more than 4 years ago | (#29622653)

Putting public money to work to build a railroad network is a good way to invest public money.

You know, Tricky Dick Nixon promised us that Amtrak would only be living on the public teat for a couple of years, and then private investors would buy it. Didn't work out that way.

it's a hell of a lot better than subsidizing bankrupt companies.

Yeah, poking your eye out is better than cutting your throat from ear to ear. What's your point?

building the whole system will provide a lot of meaning full jobs.

Nope. It shifts jobs from productive activities to wealth-destroying government waste.

-jcr

Oh, for crying out loud. (2, Insightful)

jcr (53032) | more than 4 years ago | (#29622623)

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

Airports and airplanes make way more sense (1, Interesting)

SuperKendall (25149) | more than 4 years ago | (#29622629)

Why tear up land for something like this? I've used trains a number of times, and although interesting rail is just not as good a solution as buses or, especially, air travel.

And here I'm not just talking big planes. I'm talking regional airports that, if funded to the same level, could provide an amazing degree of flexibility in travel, to places all over and not just two fixed points.

Airplane travel is not even that much different in terms of fuel consumption than trains, and could be improved if we spent R&D money on that instead of more train follies. For a nation as spread out as America, it's more important to cover more area.

What happened to Proposition 1A... (1)

g-doo (714869) | more than 4 years ago | (#29622671)

and the $9.95 billion of general obligation bonds?

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