California's Bullet Train
The California High-Speed Rail project passed under the Safe, Reliable High-Speed Passenger Train Bond Act for the 21st Century in 2008. The project promises approximately 800 miles of track for a bullet train that guarantees a two hour and 40 minute ride between San Francisco’s Transbay Terminal and LA’s Union Station. It will have up to 24 different stations that will connect most of the state’s largest cities.
With an anticipated speed of 220 mph, the train is meant to offer an alternative option to travel throughout California that is both quick and economical.
Now in 2019, California’s High-Speed Rail (HSR) project seems to be losing steam. The initial estimated cost that sat at $40 billion dollars has ballooned up to $77 billion according to the 2018 California High-Speed Rail Authority business plan. With minimal progress being made and costs rising, America’s first bullet train might never leave the tracks.
Many of the issues are focused upon the two hour and 40 minute arrival time. This assumption hinges on trains operating at higher speeds than virtually all the systems in Asia and Europe.
The Japanese Shinkansen, which travels between Tokyo and Osaka, a total of 344 miles, fastest trip takes two hours and 22 minutes and has an average speed of 145 miles per hour.
French bullet train the Grande Vitesse covers a 243-mile trip between Paris to Lyon in an hour and 59 minutes, at an average speed of 121 miles per hour.
The Los Angeles to San Francisco route, which crosses three mountain ranges and 10 of the largest cities in California, would require an average speed of 164 miles per hour to travel the 438 miles in two hours and 40 minutes.
President Donald Trump recently attacked California’s HSR project, deeming it to be a "green disaster." United States Department of Transportation announced plans to cancel $929 million in federal grant funds that were yet to be paid toward the project.
The department released a statement on Feb. 12, “The US Department of Transportation is actively exploring every legal option to seek the return from California of $2.5 billion in federal funds that the Federal Railroad Administration previously granted.” citing inadequate progression and California’s High-Speed Rail Authority failure to comply with agreed terms.
This came a week after newly appointed California governor Gavin Newsom’s comments about the HSR project were misconstrued by the media as a complete abandonment of the train system.
Instead Gov. Newsom has refocused on finishing the 171 miles between the Central Valley, from Merced to Bakersfield that is currently under construction by 2027.
Newsom stated he has not given up on a connector route to Los Angles and the Bay Area,
"We finish the environmental work, we continue to advocate for more federal dollars and private sector dollars, of which I think are more likely to come to California when we demonstrate that we can actually deliver on something."
California’s HSR project aims to alleviate current travel complications, connect major cities, reduce oil consumption, cut carbon emissions and generate thousands of jobs across the state.
The high-speed bullet train is projected to carry 120,000 passengers a day at a rate of $55 for a one-way ticket and is scheduled to be completed by 2033.