An Historic Boondoggle

Hot Air:

For all the money being spent on high-speed rail, Griffin reports that the only high-speed rail line that’s actually being built is the California corridor between San Francisco and Los Angeles (eventually, anyway) that runs along and over the San Andreas Fault, which by-the-by is overdue for a massive earthquake. I’ve included a few links below to remind readers just how well that project has gone over the last few years. Don’t forget that the first service on this line if and when it starts at all — and after billions of dollars have been spent — will be to connect the huge metropolitan areas of Bakersfield and, er, somewhere near Fresno. When it’s complete, California and the US will have spent over $100 billion in order to create a subsidized transportation system to connect two cities in a trip that takes about three times as long as air travel does.

Buh-buh-but what about all those great public works projects of the past, like the Transcontinental Railroad and the TVA?

The Transcontinental Railroad provided something the nation needed – a quick and relatively cheap way to connect the eastern and western halves of the country. In return the government gave away land that was virtually worthless without a railroad servicing it. Once built, the railroads saw heavy use and made huge profits – what some people thought were excessive profits.

The Tennessee Valley Authority and other hydroelectric projects provided three things: irrigation, flood control and cheap electricity. They more than paid for themselves.

So what will the high-speed rail provide? We already have quick and cheap transportation between Los Angeles and San Francisco. You can fly or drive, depending on your plans and budget. The flight itself takes about an hour, not counting all the rigamarol of getting to the airport, checking in, TSA groping, boarding, taxiing, take-off, landing, taxiing, embarking, finding your luggage and leaving the airport for your ultimate destination.

Or you can drive and go straight from point A to point B, but you’ll have to deal with crowded freeways, construction zones, trucks and unrealistically low speed limits enforced by humorless CHP officers. Another option is the bus, which means riding with ex-cons and Who’s Who in Mental Illness. A high-speed rail will take longer than flying but will be quicker than driving. Cost estimates are kinda sketchy but if it’s anything like BART or Amtrak it won’t be cheap.

We don’t need a high-speed rail. There is really no market for one. Even when it’s built it will probably operate at a loss. I live in one of the towns the HSR will pass thru but I’m guessing it won’t stop here because if it makes a lot of stops it won’t be “high speed”. We already have Amtrak, and it loses money.


About Myiq2xu - BA, JD, FJB

I was born and raised in a different country - America. I don't know what this place is.
This entry was posted in Blue Model Fail, California and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

68 Responses to An Historic Boondoggle

  1. HELENK says:

    this is not the economy for a high speed rail line. You know I firmly believe in rail travel and use it when I can.
    the route in California will not take in to account the major cities like LA, San Diego. If they were going to have this, It should start in San Diego with stops in LA then Santa Barbara then San Jose then San Franciso then Sacramento along the route of the Coast Starlight train.
    A separate track would have to be built due to the speed and freight traffic. You would have to have elevated crossovers at street crossings.
    Right now that is not possible.
    I would like to see several cross country high speed rail lines. One across the northern USA and one across the Southern USA and one through the middle with feeder lines to all. I know that will not happen in my lifetime.

    Yes Amtrak loses money. every passenger railroad in the world does. Our government gives less to Amtrak then some third world countries do to their passenger railroads. When private railroads ran passenger lines, the freight carried them. Why do you think they were so happy when they could get rid of them and give them to the government to form Amtrak

    • Somebody says:

      I didn’t know that about private railroads Helenk, thanks for sharing.

      I thought about you as soon as I saw this post. I was hoping you would weigh in.

    • myiq2xu says:

      The original railroads mostly went through unoccupied land (except for the Indians and we don’t count them).

      This line will originate in LA and go NE over Tehachapi Pass to Bakersfield, then follow the current Amtrak/ATSF line NW to Stockton, then turn west and build a new line into SF. All those new lines will travel through heavily occupied areas. The existing lines will need extensive upgrades.

      • HELENK says:

        the existing lines carry freight trains over them. If you really want high speed you need a separate track all together. Freight travels at a slower speed than passenger. You will have to have elevated crossovers at every crossing for safety sake. It takes a half mile for a train to stop at current speeds, image how long it would take at a higher speed. I thought the current one was going to start at San Bernardino and then go north and could not see people traveling from LA to there to start their trip

        • HELENK says:

          On the Amtrak Northeast Corridor there are fewer street level crossings. Most have bridges crossing the tracks or elevated crossings. the speed limit used to be up to 125 MPH. I do not know about now because I have been on the Acela trains

        • myiq2xu says:

          Right now the freight trains stop and block traffic to allow Amtrak or other trains to pass. My town has 11 crossings on the ATSF/Amtrack line and only 2 are elevated. Where the line cuts through residential areas the lines will have to be fenced between crossings. We have another line (SP) that runs parallel to the ATSF/Amtrack line most of the way through the Central Valley.

          The SP track follows the original SP line built in 1872. That line literally put Merced on the map.

        • HELENK says:

          also there is very little if any freight on the corridor and the commuter trains run on different tracks due to making more stops

        • HELENK says:

          the NE corridor is the only track that Amtrak owns. all other Amtrak trains run over tracks belonging to freight railroads. A high speed railroad would have to own the track to run its trains and not be at another railroad’s mercy

      • 49erDweet (D) says:

        But the good part of it is if I had a well-padded oversized duffle bag and wanted to get in the bag and be snagged off a pole like a mail sack in Wasco and then skidded along the platform as the train thundered through Turlock, I could visit two sets of relatives on the same day without driving through Madera and Selma. So there are some benefits.

        • myiq2xu says:

          I went to school in Turlock and worked in Madera and Selma. All three towns have something in common. They were laid out by people on acid.

        • 49erDweet (D) says:

          ……on acid and following engorged cows trying to find the barn after feeding on the dregs of old wine barrels.

  2. Somebody says:

    What is it about Dems and their wet dreams of high speed rails, LOL! We have a similar on again, off again high speed rail project here in Florida, same story…….WTH is going to ride it??

    High speed rail works in certain places around the globe, but aside from the NE corridor I don’t think high speed rail would be profitable here in the US.

    Why not spend that money improving roads and airports? OR how about saving that money by not wasting it…….what a concept.

  3. HELENK says:

    image high speed rail like the nations freeways but without the traffic. Think about 200 or 300 people all in one vehicle instead of 300 cars. It could be done but it will not be done. Image a national grid with major high speed lines east and west and north and south with feeder lines. A great dream but will never be a reality

    • myiq2xu says:

      Starry-eyed dreamers always come up with utopian ideas that never really work in practice.

    • 49erDweet (D) says:

      HelenK is spot on. A good system would be a huge financial shot in the arm to our national economy, but we are too spread out geographically for the PTB to control who benefits and who doesn’t, so there’s little incentive for them to push for an upgrade. “It won’t happen” is sadly true.

      The Brit rail system and London’s Underground system are prime examples of publicly assisted infrastructured networks that work to the the public’s benefit. Private money put most of them in but government made it possible to build the shortest possible routes. Win-win. It helps the whole nation is about the size of Oregon, of course.

    • Constance says:

      They have to run the mass transit all the time to make people depend on it. It takes me 20-25 minutes to drive to work. The bus would take an hour and a half each way if I catch the 2 hours when buses run more frequently in the morning and evening, if I miss that window it could take 3 hours and it is hardly possible to get to my place of business which is a major medical center by bus, on the weekend. If they ran buses 24/7 every 15 minutes I would take it.

      • myiq2xu says:

        When I was in Germany the buses ran from 5am to midnight. The were every 1/2 hour early and late, then every 15 minutes during the day. If you were in town there was a bus stop within 10-15 minutes walk. All the routes converged at the bus/train station where you could switch over.

        If you had a flash pass for the bus, a Eurail pass for the train and a passport (or military ID) you could jump on a bus and travel all over Western Europe and back without buying a ticket. Both types of passes were cheap and easy to get.

        • HELENK says:

          my biggest gripe on where I live now is the lack of public transportation. I am spoiled back east I could get where I want to go day or night on public transportation. Did not learn to drive until I was 38. DId not have to. me and 4 kids traveled all over and had fun.
          If you live within the LA area there is transportation that is not bad but here in the boondocks forget it. If I took a bus to Riverside it would take 3 1/2 hours and then a train to LA would be another hour.
          Metrolink stops running trains to Riverside at 6:30pm so if you work late you are stuck. If you work 2nd or 3rd shift you can not use the train. That did shock me when I came here.
          How you could change the California thinking on public transportation, I will never know

    • Propertius says:

      A high-speed rail will take longer than flying but will be quicker than driving. Cost estimates are kinda sketchy but if it’s anything like BART or Amtrak it won’t be cheap.

      All things considered, it’ll be faster than flying. In my experience (and I’ve flown 24 times so far this year), the actual flying time is the least of it.

      I rode the Shinkansen pretty frequently when I lived in Tokyo, and I’ve ridden the TGV from Zurich to Paris. Let’s just say that first class on the TGV is a nice ride – and both cheaper (70 SF) and more convenient than flying. Take your bag to the station, hop into your big, comfy seat, and watch the kilometers go by. No surly gate agents or overworked flight attendants, no TSA group-grope security theater, just hop on and go. For 10 euros, they’ll even call ahead and arrange to have a cab driver meet you on the platform and schlep you and your bags to your final destination.

      There’s something to be said for a robust transportation system that provides a lot of independent options – trains don’t get fogged in, after all.

      • myiq2xu says:

        No surly gate agents or overworked flight attendants, no TSA group-grope security theater, just hop on and go.

        Isn’t America a great country?

  4. DandyTiger says:

    I say we should have the DT boondoggle instead. Give me 100B. I’ll spend it on me and friends. We’ll travel. We’ll buy toys. We’ll spend it all in 10 years, no matter what we have to buy. Funnily, it would probably be more useful and stimulate the economy better than the train.

  5. foxyladi14 says:

    I don’t think high speed rail will ever be seen here in the USA.
    At least not in my lifetime. 🙂

  6. myiq2xu says:

    What they really need to do in places like LA and the SF Bay Area is build up, not out. Density housing with shared parks and recreation areas. Urban living like Manhattan.

    But people want suburban 3-4 bdrm homes with a yard and swimming pool, so we get suburban sprawl.

    • DandyTiger says:

      Agree. You’re in an urban area, act like it. And up can be so fun. I love the tower based garden buildings. So many cool things people can do.

  7. myiq2xu says:
  8. HELENK says:

    give example of why high speed would need it’s own track. I was dispatching and there was a local freight that every day went to a place that was dark territory. that means I can not see where the train is and basically I can not send in another train without talking to the freight local. Then I got a light engine move that wanted to to the same dark territory. I could not get hold of the freight train , they were not answering the radio and the engineer and conductor did not have a cell phone number listed with the dispatcher. I called the freight yard and asked them where they wanted me to park their engines and they were not going to tie up my railroad as I had commuter trains to run. Shocked the shit out of them and the next day the local had cell phones and the dispatcher had the number

    • John Denney says:

      High speed needs its own track because of the forces involved. For rough comparison, a 50 mph 18 wheeler can manage a rough road that would make a 200 mph race car lose control.
      As a wheel passes over a weak spot, the rail flexes. For a slow train, not a problem, but for a fast train, the wheels may hit at that rail’s resonant frequency, making it flex farther, possibly causing a derailment.

  9. 49erDweet (D) says:

    Aren’t the rails and rail beds different, too?

  10. yttik says:

    I love trains and I do dream of a country where our freeways are all replaced by high speed rail, but I really don’t believe it will ever happen in America. We’re Americans, we love our cars, our freedom, and our wide open places. We’re kind of unique that way.

  11. John Denney says:

    We have technology for high speed transportation between cities – automobiles! They are capable of much higher speeds than the current speed limits, and are already designed with safety in mind.
    But we have to drill into drivers the concept of, “Slower traffic keep right!” If vehicles behind you are flashing their lights, or people are passing you on the right, MOVE OVER!!!! And DON’T TAILGATE!! LEAVE SPACE FOR OTHER VEHICLES TO CHANGE LANES!!!

    Ahem. Sorry. Pet peeves.

    • HELENK says:

      or have signs for tailgaters that read Next time wait until you get home to take the viagra and stay off people’s a$$es

  12. myiq2xu says:
  13. myiq2xu says:

    It was a simple plan . . .

    I got some 2x6x8 boards so I could make some planting frames for my veggie garden. I figured it was save me lots of digging and weeding and they would be reusable. They were on sale so I bought 6 of them, figuring I would cut 2 in half and make two 4×8 rectangles.

    First thing that went wrong: My circular saw stopped working. It’s deader than Tupac Shakur. Cheap POS Craftsman was only about 25 years old.

    So I call my BIL and he says he’ll bring his saw over.

    After the boards are cut I start nailing the frames together. I am cussing in several languages because I keep bending nails. I throw the hammer down in disgust wondering why I can’t drive a nail straight. That’s when I notice that the handle of the hammer is bent so the head isn’t on straight.

    I finally got one frame finished before my back told me if I ever wanted to walk upright again I was done for the day.

    Back pain is sneaky. It will go away for long periods of time, then come back unexpectedly for an extended visit.

  14. DeniseVB says:

    MOTUS used one of votermom’s tweets in yesterday’s post !!

    (sorry if this is a dupe, but I just saw it 😀 )

  15. John Denney says:

    A 300 mile drive at 60 mph takes 5 hours; the same trip at 120 mph takes 2 1/2 hours. For an automobile, the infrastructure is already there for high speed travel. If it’s your automobile, you’re on your own schedule, you can pack as much luggage and as many passengers as will fit in your vehicle, and you have transportation when you arrive.
    300 miles at 20 mpg is 15 gallons of gas, about 60 bucks total for all the passengers and luggage.

    • John Denney says:

      And a motorcycle will get you there using half the gas. Easier parking, too, though there are more passenger and luggage limitations.

Comments are closed.