Does California Need High Speed Rail?
A friend of mine says “No!” They cite there reasons as being this is not the right time to build such a rail system, it is only a means of wasting money and why should they support a rail system when they have their own truck.
For my part I believe California needs a high speed rail network. This is not because China has one. I know they do, so has Japan, France several regions of Europe are working on them even my own beloved Britain has attempted for decades to update its rail systems by various means to high speed rail.
In my experience it takes fourteen hours to travel by a combination of rail and bus from Los Angeles to Sacremento, the new planned rail system would link San Diego, Los Angeles and San Francisco with trains taking about five hours from terminus to terminus. Since the journey would be a circuitous 700 mile journey because of terrain it would still be a leisurely High Speed run of about 125 to 150 miles per hour, not the fastest high speed but far better than what we have now.
Today trains travel at about 30 to 55 miles per hour and regularly halt for freight trains because the current lines are owned by the freight companies. Where no track is available you have to haul luggage from train to bus and back again at connection places.
Building or at least beginning to build the system will mean increased employment for engineering companies. It is simply cheaper to build when an economy is in a downturn. Why wait until all the engineering companies are busy and waiting in line for the project to go ahead, waiting only makes the job more expensive and means the benefits are not gained as quickly as they could be.
My first trip to California was marred by the fact that I had to choose to go to Los Angeles rather than San Francisco just because there was no way for me to catch major trains to or from San Francisco, the city many tourists want to see is only accessible by plane, ship or car, not train.
It is often stated that California would be the world’s eighth largest economy as an independent nation. So why should it’s major cities not be linked by the railway, after all we are talking mid twentieth century technology as a basis for the High Speed Rail Network. The main answer is terrain, California is broken into a seiries of lon valley’s running North and South with no direct route for trains which do not do well on hills and inclines. The crumbling Pacific coastline offers an unstable option with few large towns.
The California Central Valley offers, population centers for stops and passengers and also a level route for high speeds.
My friends argument that all Californians have cars is also a red herring in my mind. I for one don’t have a car to drive because I am blind. I would love to travel around the State quickly and easily, and to not have to take days doing so.
I also believe tourists do not want to drive in the US. I well remember several years ago, tourists being advised not to hire cars, because street gangs murdered several tourists in Florida and many others were car jacked, just because they drove into the wrong neighborhoods. Much easier and safer to catch a train.
It will take many years to create this network, but I see it as being a positive act.
I see it encouraging tourism across the state, no longer will it be the choice, L.A. or San Francisco, soon it will be both on a weekend vacation.
The Central Valley has also seen a decline in farming as water is drawn off to Southern California farms are left to dry up and become a dust bowl. We need to create jobs in the Valley and the rail system can help both in the construction phase and also maintainance.
Having the updated rail system could also provide new skills as we train those who will maintain the systems.
Finally I see the rail system as bringing more good than bad, I have not even touched upon the possible improved air quality and reduction of congestion on roads which are poorly maintained and crumbling even as I write.