California High-Speed Rail: Wikis


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California High-Speed Rail
California High Speed Rail.svg
Locale California
Transit type High-speed rail
Daily ridership 91-95 million yearly (CHSRA projection)[1]
Operator(s) TBD
System length 700+ mi (1,100+ km) (proposed)[2]

The California High-Speed Rail project is an expected future high-speed rail system in the state of California and headed by California High-Speed Rail Authority (CHSRA). The project was approved by California voters on November 4, 2008 with the passage of Proposition 1A authorizing US$9.95 billion in general obligation bonds for the project. The CHSRA is currently tasked with completing final planning, design, and environmental efforts. When built, high-speed trains capable of 220 mph (350 km/h) are anticipated to link San Francisco and Los Angeles in as little as two and a half hours. The planned system would also serve other major California cities, such as Sacramento, San Jose, Fresno, Bakersfield, and San Diego.

Construction efforts are anticipated to begin by 2011.[3] An implementation plan approved in August 2005 estimates that it would take eight to eleven years to "develop and begin operation of an initial segment of the California high-speed train".[2]


Current rail options

Currently, intercity rail service does not directly serve the city of San Francisco (other than Caltrain, which connects San Francisco to various cities in San Mateo and Santa Clara counties, such as San Jose, Gilroy, Palo Alto, and Belmont). Amtrak provides bus connections from various San Francisco locations to its stations in Oakland and Emeryville across the bay.

The fastest Amtrak route from Oakland to Los Angeles is the state-sponsored San Joaquin train line to Bakersfield, and then a bus from Bakersfield to Los Angeles or various locations in Southern California. The San Joaquin route is not time-efficient as it takes a circuitous route north and east from Oakland through the Sacramento river delta to enter the Central Valley. The train trip between Oakland and Bakersfield takes just over 6 hours, and the remaining road trip to Los Angeles on the I-5 either on one of Amtrak's buses or by car takes 2-3 hours. Currently, there are no trains between Los Angeles and Bakersfield other than Southern California's Metrolink's, on the Antelope Valley Line, which only go as far as Lancaster from Los Angeles Union Station, and take almost 2 hours to complete the trip between Lancaster and Los Angeles due to the excessive amount of curves on the route through the Soledad Canyon. The lack of trains between Lancaster and Bakersfield is because the railroad between those cities, which is owned by Union Pacific, is a congested single-track freight line which Union Pacific claims has no extra capacity for even 1 passenger train to squeeze in. Not to mention the fact that it climbs the Tehachapi Pass, which is so steep and has so many curves (almost as if it was built in a zig-zag) that it would take a ridiculously long time to travel that route by rail.

Amtrak's Coast Starlight (not state-sponsored) provides a direct rail trip from Oakland/Emeryville to Los Angeles along the Pacific Coast, but is even slower than the San Joaquins, taking more than 12 hours.


Map of proposed route, also including the proposed Desert Xpress to Las Vegas
Proposed route
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San Francisco
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SFO Airport (via Millbrae)
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Redwood City/Palo Alto
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San Jose
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Hanford (proposed)
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Los Angeles
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University City
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San Diego


The system will initially stretch from San Francisco and Sacramento, via the Central Valley, to Los Angeles and San Diego via the Inland Empire. Proposed stations on the route are shown on the right,[4] with stations on the initial San Francisco-Los Angeles-Anaheim route given in bold.[5]

Track alignment into the Central Valley

One issue initially debated was whether to connect the Bay Area via the Altamont Pass or the Pacheco Pass. On November 15, 2007, Authority staff recommended that the High Speed Rail follow the Pacheco Pass route because it is the more direct route and allows trains to serve both San Jose and San Francisco on the same route, while the Altamont route poses several engineering challenges. Some cities along the Altamont route, such as Pleasanton and Fremont, also opposed the Altamont route option, citing concerns over possible property taking and increase in traffic congestion.[6] However, environmental groups, including the Sierra Club, have opposed the Pacheco route because the area is less developed and more environmentally sensitive than Altamont.[7]

On December 19, 2007 the Authority Board agreed to proceed with the Pacheco Pass option.[8] Pacheco Pass was considered the superior route for long-distance travel between Southern California and the Bay Area, although the Altamont Pass option would serve as a good commuter route. The Authority plans conventional rail improvements for the Altamont corridor, to complement the high-speed project.


The California High-Speed Rail Authority projects that construction of the system will create approximately 150,000 construction jobs and 450,000 permanent jobs by creating "new commuters" that will use the system. The Los Angeles-San Francisco route is also projected to create a profit of $1 billion annually that will initially go back into the high-speed rail system itself for maintenance and further extensions. The high-speed rail system is also projected to be half the cost of building new airport runways, gates and expanding highways for the same capacity of travelers, necessary for future demand due to California's increasing population. Since the trains are completely grade-separated, there is no threat of interfering automobile and pedestrian traffic. The project also involves grade-separation for existing rail lines with which it will share right-of-ways along part of its length, further improving safety on these lines and eliminating car traffic delays. Within station sites, major developments are projected to take place, some of which have already started which include the Sacramento Railyards and the Transbay Terminal Development in San Francisco. Since high-speed trains (based on fossil electricity generation) use one-third the energy of airplanes (per person) and a fifth of that used by cars (with one person),[citation needed] California High-Speed Rail will also eliminate 12 billion pounds of greenhouse gas emissions each year by off-setting passenger car and airplane use. This is the equivalent of removing more than one million vehicles from the state's roads and freeways. It will also lessen California's dependence on foreign oil by up to 12.7 million barrels per year.


On November 4, 2008 California voters approved Proposition 1A, a measure to construct the initial segment of the planned California High-Speed rail network. The measure provides $9 billion for the construction of the core segment between San Francisco and Los Angeles/Anaheim, and an additional $950 million for improvements on local railroad systems, which will serve as feeder systems to the planned high-speed rail system.

Financing plans to complete the initial segment include planned support from federal and local governments, as well as the private sector. Construction costs are projected to be approximately $40 billion. The Authority projects the initial operating segment to produce a budget surplus which will be used to finance extensions to Sacramento and San Diego.

On October 2, 2009, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger unveiled California's official application for ARRA high-speed rail stimulus funding. The total amount of the application was $4.7 billion, representing more than half of the $8 billion set aside for high-speed rail. The application included:

  • $2 billion for high-speed train facilities at Los Angeles Union Station, Norwalk Station and the Anaheim Regional Transportation Intermodal Center; right-of-way acquisition, grade separations, utility relocation, environmental mitigation, earthwork, tunneling and track work between Los Angeles and Anaheim.
  • $1.28 billion for station improvements, grade separations, electrification and other work between San Jose and San Francisco;
  • $819.5 million for right-of-way acquisition, grade separations, utility relocation, environmental mitigation, earthwork and track between Bakersfield and Fresno;
  • $466 million for similar work between Fresno and Merced

On January 28, 2010, the White House announced that California would receive $2.35 Billion of its request,[9] of which $2.25 Billion was allocated specifically for California High Speed Rail, while the rest was designated for conventional rail improvements.

Criticisms of project

In September 2008, Reason Foundation, a libertarian think tank, Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association, and Citizens Against Government Waste published "The California High Speed Rail Proposal: A Due Diligence Report". The report projected that the final cost for the complete high-speed rail system would be $65 to $81 billion, which is higher than official estimates. It also projected fewer riders by 2030 than officially estimated: 23-31 million riders a year instead of the 65-96 million forecasted by the Rail Authority. The report stated that no existing high-speed rail train currently meets the proposed speed and safety goals, although the safety systems have not been fully specified, and that the reduction in CO2 emissions would be inconsequential. The time required to reach the proposed speeds and the distances between stops indicates that attaining the proposed speeds would be difficult between the majority of stops.[10]

See also


External links

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