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Old January 26th, 2006, 09:01 AM   #1
612bv3
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California High Speed Rail

Bullet train likely chugging to derailment
$9.95 billion bond could be taken off of November ballot
- Greg Lucas, Chronicle Sacramento Bureau
Thursday, January 26, 2006


Sacramento -- While nations from Mexico to China are investing heavily in high-speed rail, California's dream to shoot 220 mph bullet trains from San Francisco to Los Angeles is beginning to fade.

Detractors in the Legislature and outside it say it's better for the state to attack existing congestion than gamble finite dollars on the possibility of whisking commuters from Northern to Southern California in less than three hours.

Supporters warn that without high-speed rail, California would need to build 3,000 new miles of highway lanes, 60 new airline gates and five more runways to meet the transportation needs created by the state population growing from 35 million to 48 million over the next 25 years.

Without an initial investment now in bullet trains, the project might never be built.

"It's a far cleaner, safer, more energy-efficient method of transportation. The way the state is laid out is perfect for this type of train. It's crazy not to be using it," said Tony Daniels, president of the Association for California High Speed Trains. "We need to get something in the ground this year."

Bullet trains are widely used in Japan and Europe. China is embarking on an $80 billion expansion of its system.

Mexico announced early this month it was seeking bids on a $12 billion bullet train to run from Mexico City to Guadalajara, the country's second-largest city. If built, it would be the Western Hemisphere's first high-speed train.

California's high-speed rail system -- envisioned as eventually carrying 115,000 passengers daily and serving more than 30 stations, including the Transbay Terminal -- would cut through the Central Valley from Sacramento down to Los Angeles and San Diego.

The initial route would be a line from San Francisco to downtown Los Angeles. That trip would take 2.5 hours.

After nearly 10 years of planning, the first phase of the $33 billion project was set to begin next year, fueled by a $9.95 billion bond placed on this November's ballot.

But both the Democratic leader of the Senate and Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger felt the large rail bond might discourage voters from backing other more pressing public works bonds for highways, levees and prisons.

Although the rail bond is still on the November ballot, backers say it is likely to be removed as part of whatever compromise lawmakers strike with the Republican governor over his proposed 10-year, $222 billion public works spending plan.

Removal of the measure requires a two-thirds vote, the same threshold needed to place bonds on the ballot.

"We feel like the guns are drawn, they're circling the project and are ready to pull the triggers,'' said Alan C. Miller, executive director of the 1,200-member Train Riders Association of California.

The California High Speed Rail Authority, which has worked since 1996 to make the bullet train a reality, admits that even if the bond stayed on the ballot and was approved, only about $1 billion of it could be spent over the next four years.

Senate President Pro Tem Don Perata, D-Alameda, has placed $1 billion to keep the project alive in a $12.3 billion public works bond he is shepherding through the upper house.

But Perata is not optimistic the money will survive negotiations over the number and size of what bonds to place on this year's ballot.

"In a word of finite choices, when you combine what you know you need and haven't done with what the public wants done, high-speed rail sounds too futuristic and does not generate the kind of enthusiasm any number of other projects do," Perata said.

The money in Perata's bond is earmarked for engineering, purchasing right-of-way and grade separation -- building tunnels or bridges so there is no traffic disruption where rail and roads cross.

Backers of high-speed rail say grade separation will have an immediate benefit for commuters and rail transport, even if the bullet train never gets built.

"If you build grade separations, freight trains won't block traffic. Commuter trains like Caltrain could run faster, emissions from idling cars would be reduced, and it's safer for both cars and trains," said Laura Stuchinsky, director of transportation and land use for the Silicon Valley Leadership Group.

Growth pressures, particularly in the Central Valley, make it critical to purchase the additional 100 feet of right-of-way next to existing tracks necessary to lay the line for the high-speed train.

Critics say the state has higher, more immediate transportation priorities than the train, and they question the plan's financing.

"We need to dedicate the transportation dollars we have to our highest priorities -- places where congestion is an impediment to job creation," said Allan Zaremberg, president of the California Chamber of Commerce.

But Miller said the project needs a champion, someone with vision, eager to make a difference. Someone like Schwarzenegger.

"He's looking to leave a legacy, do something different, do something people want,'' said Miller. "High-speed rail seems like a no-brainer to me, but I am biased.''

The initial route -- San Francisco to Los Angeles -- would be financed by nearly $10 billion in state bond money, matched by federal funds.

Profits from the San Francisco to Los Angeles line would be used to later continue service through Orange County to San Diego and north up the Central Valley to Sacramento.

"The business plan raises a lot of questions. Is that other money going to materialize? Is this project the highest priority for federal funds at this point?" said Bill Hauck, president of the California Business Roundtable.

Backers say they'll make their case to lawmakers and the special two-house committee appointed to evaluate dozens of proposed public works bonds.

Page B - 1
URL: http://sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cg.../HIGHSPEED.TMP
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Old January 27th, 2006, 12:51 AM   #2
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Where in La do you think the station will be? Union Station? LAX? Both?
LAX would be more convenient to travelers but U.S. would mean a major boost to Downtown.
And fore SF I heard about the construction of a new transbay terminal that might some day connect to the high speed rail.
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Old January 27th, 2006, 02:48 AM   #3
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Union Station


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Old January 27th, 2006, 03:54 AM   #4
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Would this system be connected to Vegas?
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Old January 27th, 2006, 04:34 AM   #5
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I don't think so, the Vegas high speed train will go to Anaheim.
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Old January 29th, 2006, 09:16 AM   #6
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jeez california needs to get with the program... 8 countries in europe already have HSR (high speed rails), so does japan, taiwan, S. korea soon China. Croatia, Slovenia, and Austria also start HSR construction next year. rails are the future. these bullet trains dont pollute at all, which is after all ALL THAT WE CALFIORNIANS ARE ABOUT, SAVING THE ENVIRONMENT, it would eliminate traffic jams caused by trains and would also eliminate any possible car vs. train accidents, it would get ppl out of their cars and using public transportation for once.

HSR is the future. CA needs to cement its place in it. That won't be happening with the pathetic rail system in place right now. a political entity cannot function with poor transportation infrastructure. the freeways are strictly okay. i say that the HSR project is an absolute neccesity for california.
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Old January 29th, 2006, 07:42 PM   #7
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^ Mexico might also beat us to the punch....

Anyways, I'd rather have SD's connection go straight to LA, but meh, whatever.
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Old January 29th, 2006, 07:54 PM   #8
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FYI - This is the system being considered in the UK right now.

MagLev

Similar to Californias requirements (one HS mainline) but with shorter distances. Cost estimated ate £30Bn/$50Bn

310mph maglev trains. Better than TGV/ICE yet also somewhat more expensive. Thought you guy's might find it interesting because the challenges the UK and CA face in needing HSR are similar.

What is the distance between Sacramento and San Diego?
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Old January 30th, 2006, 06:09 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by OettingerCroat
jeez california needs to get with the program... 8 countries in europe already have HSR (high speed rails), so does japan, taiwan, S. korea soon China. Croatia, Slovenia, and Austria also start HSR construction next year. rails are the future. these bullet trains dont pollute at all, which is after all ALL THAT WE CALFIORNIANS ARE ABOUT, SAVING THE ENVIRONMENT, it would eliminate traffic jams caused by trains and would also eliminate any possible car vs. train accidents, it would get ppl out of their cars and using public transportation for once.

HSR is the future. CA needs to cement its place in it. That won't be happening with the pathetic rail system in place right now. a political entity cannot function with poor transportation infrastructure. the freeways are strictly okay. i say that the HSR project is an absolute neccesity for california.


I will be very angry is construction doesn't start before 2010.
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Last edited by 612bv3; January 30th, 2006 at 06:15 AM.
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Old January 30th, 2006, 06:14 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Iain1974
What is the distance between Sacramento and San Diego?
The distance is over 500 miles, but the HSR wont be going there anytime soon. They're going to build the San Francisco to Los Angeles line first which is over 400 miles.
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Old January 30th, 2006, 07:54 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 612bv3
The distance is over 500 miles, but the HSR wont be going there anytime soon. They're going to build the San Francisco to Los Angeles line first which is over 400 miles.
LA>SF HSR sounds good.
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Old January 30th, 2006, 08:51 AM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by OettingerCroat
jeez california needs to get with the program... 8 countries in europe already have HSR (high speed rails), so does japan, taiwan, S. korea soon China. Croatia, Slovenia, and Austria also start HSR construction next year. rails are the future. these bullet trains dont pollute at all, which is after all ALL THAT WE CALFIORNIANS ARE ABOUT, SAVING THE ENVIRONMENT, it would eliminate traffic jams caused by trains and would also eliminate any possible car vs. train accidents, it would get ppl out of their cars and using public transportation for once.

HSR is the future. CA needs to cement its place in it. That won't be happening with the pathetic rail system in place right now. a political entity cannot function with poor transportation infrastructure. the freeways are strictly okay. i say that the HSR project is an absolute neccesity for california.
I completely agree.
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Old January 30th, 2006, 08:52 AM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 612bv3
Union Station


A stop by my school? Damn this definitely should get built
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Old January 30th, 2006, 08:56 AM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 612bv3
Detractors in the Legislature and outside it say it's better for the state to attack existing congestion than gamble finite dollars on the possibility of whisking commuters from Northern to Southern California in less than three hours.
While Mexico and China and E. Europe race ahead of the US, we still have people in our government who are TOTALLY UNEDUCATED about environmental science and long-term investments. This makes my blood boil. How the hell is it supposed to be a "gamble"? ****-faced retards.
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Old January 30th, 2006, 08:58 AM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by OettingerCroat
jeez california needs to get with the program... 8 countries in europe already have HSR (high speed rails), so does japan, taiwan, S. korea soon China. Croatia, Slovenia, and Austria also start HSR construction next year. rails are the future. these bullet trains dont pollute at all, which is after all ALL THAT WE CALFIORNIANS ARE ABOUT, SAVING THE ENVIRONMENT, it would eliminate traffic jams caused by trains and would also eliminate any possible car vs. train accidents, it would get ppl out of their cars and using public transportation for once.

HSR is the future. CA needs to cement its place in it. That won't be happening with the pathetic rail system in place right now. a political entity cannot function with poor transportation infrastructure. the freeways are strictly okay. i say that the HSR project is an absolute neccesity for california.
Of course, alot of people would use it for getting between the main urban areas of California, but it'll far from eliminate traffic jams, think urban areas. And car vs train accidents won't stop either.

I think that Greater LA, given the money, should build a subway system. Now THAT will reduce traffic!
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Old January 30th, 2006, 11:03 AM   #16
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IT's too bad that US is a big country. Most of the countries who get HSR are small, so they don't have much to cover the country. The states in the US generally are "poor" so they can't afford their own funding or their own risk to build it also US is a car addicted country, they depend on private autos more.
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Old January 30th, 2006, 10:08 PM   #17
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I hope it happens, but does it seem to have too many stations in either end?
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Old January 31st, 2006, 07:21 AM   #18
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I think it is a good idea, but I could live with a route that links Irvine directly with UTC and San Diego. The Escondido/Murrieta/Riverside detour seems unecessary.
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Old January 31st, 2006, 07:29 AM   #19
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I hope it happens, but I doubt it will
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Old January 31st, 2006, 07:39 AM   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Facial
A stop by my school? Damn this definitely should get built
(F) What school do you go to?

Hopefully your school is between LA~LA~Land and Frisco. Since this is going to be the first route!
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