Patterico's Pontifications


California High-Speed Rail: 2022 Follies

Filed under: General — JVW @ 4:58 pm

[guest post by JVW]

It’s been over a year since I have bitched and moaned about the California High-Speed Rail Authority (CHSRA, or HSR for short) so I think it’s high-time I entertain readers with an update on the single most ridiculous public works program in our nation’s history (say what you will about Boston’s Big Dig, but that project eventually was completed). Heck, just to show that I’m not trying to put my finger on the scale, I’ll use a report from the New York Times this past Sunday as the basis of this post. Here goes:

On an average day, 1,000 workers head to dozens of construction sites spread over 119 miles across California’s vast Central Valley.

Their task is monumental: Build the bridges and crossings designed to carry bullet trains that will form the backbone of a $105 billion, 500-mile, high-speed rail system whose scale has drawn comparisons to the construction of the interstate highway system.

Ooooh, a new estimate on what the project will cost to complete, and for the first time the HSR acknowledges that it will indeed be in the nine twelve figures, which all of us pretty much knew from the outset. But let us continue:

Of course, 14 years after voters approved a nearly $10 billion bond to start building the rail system that would whisk riders from Los Angeles to San Francisco at speeds of more than 200 miles per hour, many California residents have long since lost track of what is being built where, and when or if it will ever be completed.

But if, as President Biden said in his State of the Union address, the nation is now entering an “infrastructure decade,” there is no more dramatic testing ground — or more cautionary spectacle — than California’s high-speed rail plan.

Left unsaid here is that nobody still believes the train will reach 200 mph for longer than the briefest of moments, if even then. But I love how the Times writer is framing this as a high-risk/high-reward sort of project from which the Biden Administration might at last rescue and rehabilitate the reputation of expensive government projects funded mostly by Washington DC deficit spending. Still, we soldier on:

In 2008, when the bond measure passed, the project symbolized the state’s ambition to build and think big. But in the years since then, the project has become something else: an alarming vision of a nation that seems incapable of completing the transformative projects necessary to confront 21st century challenges. The rail’s planned route and scope have changed as a result of ballooning costs, political squabbles and legal challenges.

[. . .]

Never have the cases for and against the effort been so divergent.

At the moment where I want to rejoin with a very snide “I’ll say!” I have to stop and remember that not everyone maniacally follows this sordid tale as obsessively as I do, and many oblivious and twee denizens of our nation’s historic East Coast cities might still have the notion that high-speed rail in California is both possible and economical. So I’ll keep my mouth shut and continue:

Proponents say the project has always been much more than a train. If completed, they say, the system would be an economic super charger connecting two of the nation’s biggest population centers and a desperately needed alternative to choked freeways and jammed airports as climate change becomes an ever urgent challenge.

[. . .]

Bent Flyvbjerg, a professor at Oxford University and the IT University of Copenhagen who has studied high-speed rail projects around the world, said that such projects nearly always cost much more and take much longer to build than initially projected.

The difference between high-speed rail projects that limp along for decades and those that start running trains isn’t money, he said. It’s political energy.

“The money will be found if the political will is there,” he said.

It sure would have been nice for Prof. Flyvbjerg to have blown the whistle on the underestimated costs and project completion time before we voted to undertake this project (Oh who am I kidding: all of the HSR opponents stated clearly that this boondoggle would be far more expensive, take far longer to build, and have far less ridership than the projections of proponents, yet our state’s idiot voters still approved this nonsense). But now it would be nice to inquire of the good professor what his research has shown about actual revenues from ridership in comparison with initial estimates. Over at Reason, Marc Joffe writes that the state is still using pre-COVID pandemic ridership projections, and does not account for slowing population growth in the state or for the rise of remote work and reluctance to ride on germ-ridden public transportation. Ominously, Amtrak’s Bakersfield to Bay Area line saw a 59% drop in ridership from 2019 to 2021. And given that the ridership estimates by HSR advocates were always fanciful to begin with, the idea that California high-speed rail will run without any sort of state subsidies — which was a condition of the bond issue approved by voters — is pretty much dead at the starting line. Even the NYT admits that the project faces massive challenges:

Some state lawmakers, Republicans and Democrats alike, now say the effort has become flawed and unwieldy, perhaps beyond saving. Critics say that rail officials are seeking a blank check from state coffers, and that their timeline for completion is stretching unaccountably into the future.

“The project is by all objective measures in distress,” said Anthony Rendon, California Assembly Speaker, a Democrat. “Connecting the two largest urban areas in the state is the best thing we can do from an environmental standpoint and an economic development standpoint. To link two cities in the Central Valley would doom the project.”

Speaker Rendon, being a good progressive Democrat, is not against rail projects per se. In fact, his argument is that if you want to encourage Californians to travel by rail, the best way to begin is by expanding regional lines and encouraging ridership in the “bookends” of Phase 1 of the HSR line, San Francisco/San Jose and Los Angeles/Anaheim, and then after you have exposed Golden Staters to the magic of choo-choo travel comes the time to start connecting those urban centers with the faster, sleeker, newer lines. It’s a sensible argument to be sure, but I do fear that it continues to overestimate the willingness of a people long accustomed to automobile and air travel to transition to trains. In response, Governor Hair-Gel replies that you need to build proof of concept that HSR works, and the Central Valley segment is the best way to accomplish that.

But all of that is inside baseball when faced with the fact that there is scant will in either Democrat-dominated Sacramento or Democrat-led Washington to continue throwing away taxpayer money on this vast failure:

A report by the California legislative analyst’s office notes that while the state’s legislature could decide to extend funding for the project — including a portion of cap-and-trade revenues through 2030 — it’s unclear where the money will come from to build beyond the Central Valley segment.

Experts say that the fragmented nature of transportation planning in the country has made the federal government hesitant to bet big on new projects rather than on fixing existing systems. That’s layered over a national political environment in which the appearance of California boosterism can be a liability, even for Democrats like the president.

California’s high-speed rail will “get some federal funding now that there’s a Democratic administration in place and the infrastructure bill is done,” said Jeff Davis, a senior fellow with the Eno Center for Transportation, a nonpartisan research organization. “But the federal government is not in the business of creating massive infrastructure programs that disproportionately benefit one state.”

Mr. Davis explains that of the $36 billion in the silly bipartisan “Infrastructure Bill” which was earmarked for rail projects it is likely that over half will go to the Northeast, given that the bulk of rail travel takes place in that region. Some money will go to other regions which have existing rail routes, and some has been promised to states which currently have little passenger travel by train but have promised to create new lines. This would leave California, by Mr. Davis’s estimate, with at most maybe $5 billion in federal funding, which of course comes nowhere near funding the balance of the project.

No report on California high-speed rail would be complete without an eye-rollingly stupid take from Brian Kelly, the CHSRA’s chief executive and head cheerleader (this is where I report that Mr. Kelly’s annual salary of $360,029 in 2019 was bumped up to $388,749 in 2020 — I’m glad somebody did well during the pandemic, Brian! — though his overall compensation fell a bit from $542,199 to $537,909 because for some reason he was down $34,500 in the “other pay” category) who makes an appearance to provide one of his typically fatuous bromides for why HSR is imperative for the Golden State, yet one that was apparently so awful that the reporter didn’t bother to quote from it, choosing to summarize it instead:

For Brian P. Kelly, who took over as chief executive of the rail authority in early 2018, the only way to get the project done is to trudge forward, whatever the political weather.

He rattled off his tasks ahead as if he were describing a day of errands: Get trains running on the 170-mile Central Valley section. (Mr. Kelly said he expects that to happen by the end of the decade.) Continue with preparations for the extensions and finish improvements on either end of the line. Then find the money to build the rest.

“Find the money.” Attitudes like this are what every sane person hates about useless bureaucrats who draw a cool half-mil in compensation.

The report closes awkwardly with Ashley Swearengin, the Republican former mayor of Fresno who now serves as a lobbyist for regional interests, exhorting the state to finish building the initial Bakersfield-Madera line. I don’t begrudge her that: at this point after spending 13 years and (now nearing $20 billion) I’m sure she just wants to be done with the mess. For the ending summation of this article, just like the HSR project itself, there is no bright outlook, no sunny projections for success, and (pardon the cliché) no light at the end of the tunnel. We’re stuck with this goddam mess, and all we can do now is work to ensure that once the initial part is completed the whole CHSRA is put out of commission and we never again speak of this sadly avoidable monstrosity.


40 Responses to “California High-Speed Rail: 2022 Follies”

  1. If you want a less dour and glum report on CHSRA, which also includes some interesting stuff on other rail projects, check out this piece in Railway Age.

    Oh, and here’s another tripwire that CHSRA is going to have to deal with, though I do sense the courts aren’t going to let the project be held up too much by outside interests.

    JVW (ee64e4)

  2. Californians should be used to being railroaded by now. 😉

    DCSCA (f4c5e5)

  3. I posted this a while ago, but lets go through it again…

    Idle calculation:

    Let’s say that the California high-speed rail project actually is completed from LA to SF. Optimistically, the final cost is “only” $100 billion. How long before the cost is recovered?

    1. Assume that a one-way ticket costs $100 more than the cost of operation, or a net income of $100/seat/trip. This brings the project cost down to 1 billion one-way tickets.

    2. Assume that each train has 1 thousand seats and that they are all filled each trip with paying customers. This brings the cost down to 1 million train-trips.

    3. Assume that there are 50 trips each way every day. This means that it will take 10,000 days to recover the cost. 10,000 days are about 28 years.

    But wait. This also means that the project will have about 3% ROI each year, which is not enough to pay the INTEREST on the project cost.

    So, with wildly optimistic assumptions (100,000 paying passengers a day and no empty seats), the project will NEVER EVER make a dent on the expended capital.

    The actual results will be more like 100 times as bad (5 trips each way per day with many seats unfilled on smaller trains).

    A monument to the hubris on one man.

    Kevin M (38e250)

  4. Even with the ridiculous cost per mile for subways (the purple line was $800 million per mile), Los Angeles could build over 100 miles of subway AND have money left over for a similar amount of elevated light rail.

    This would transform the city into one where you could actually get somewhere in a reasonable time. Note that every person on a subway train is not in a car.

    But no. They need to pave over the central valley with a train that will NEVER EVER take one passe3nger from LA to SF. Even if they outlaw plane travel.

    Kevin M (38e250)

  5. “But the federal government is not in the business of creating massive infrastructure programs that disproportionately benefit one state.”

    And it will be the ONLY infrastructure project California gets.

    Kevin M (38e250)

  6. Why every resident of Los Angeles isn’t screaming at their [Democrat] representatives that the Moonbeam Express needs to stop and the money used where it is actually needed. This is a perfect example of ideology displacing need. Why this article didn’t run in the LA Times is a mystery (ok, it isn’t, but it should be).

    Kevin M (38e250)

  7. America has been in love with the automobile for over 100 years. (And I’ve been in love with them for 45 years. I own three vehicles. Each one has its purpose.)

    Navin Gruesome the Climate Warrior might say that I’m harming the environment, but he would be mostly wrong. I can only drive one vehicle at a time, and unlike Navin with his four kids, I haven’t added any people to the planet. So yes, I’ll drive my V8 Mustang and eat meat, because I’ve already done my part.

    And, as for Moonbeam (RIP Mike Royko), somebody should have told him that we’re not Europe.

    norcal (a4a1aa)

  8. Really, this whole deal calls for a special prosecutor.

    Kevin M (38e250)

  9. Gentlemen, former Governor Brown comes in for his share of ridicule for cheerleading the project, but let us never forget that the bond initiative first passed during the governorship of — and with the support of — one Arnold Schwarzenegger. I cut a paragraph in which he makes an appearance from one of the quotes pulled from the NYT piece, but here it is:

    “We are the fifth largest economy in the world, and therefore I think we have to figure out how to do it,” said Arnold Schwarzenegger, a Republican who as governor championed the 2008 bond measure. “Failure’s not an option here.”

    The Arnie from 2003, resolute, stout, confident, and conservative sure turned into an utter dipshit after he was reelected in 2006. Years from now, historians are going to be marveling at the change. I wonder if it had anything to do with the fact that this was right about the time that Arnie claims he realized that he was the father of the boy born to the Guatemalan housekeeper (what he really means by that is that this was the moment when ex-wife Maria Shriver figured out that her husband had sired the boy).

    JVW (ee64e4)

  10. It wasn’t a bad idea on a theoretical basis, the problem is that there isn’t a practical and reasonably economic way to do it.

    Nic (896fdf)

  11. It wasn’t a bad idea on a theoretical basis, the problem is that there isn’t a practical and reasonably economic way to do it.

    Certainly. As Kevin M. points out, we were never going to get back the money we “invested” through ridership, but the hope was at least that the train would be self-funding on an ongoing annual basis and would require no subsidies from the taxpayer. But that is so obviously a pipe dream as well that even if the damn thing gets built we’re going to be stuck paying for it forever.

    JVW (ee64e4)

  12. JVW,it’s not that bad. Once it’s completed and running between Merced and Bakersfield, the cost will be obvious as will be the stupidity. So, it will be shut down. The only question is how much money the actual environmentalists will demand be spent to return the land to its natural condition.

    Kevin M (38e250)

  13. Really, this is reminiscent of Lord Dimwit Flathead the Excessive, ruler of Zork, and his many grandiose construction projects like Flood Control Dam #3. I suggest that a portion of the project be kept intact as a monument to hubris, perhaps with Ozymandius carved therein.

    Zork can be played online here

    Kevin M (38e250)

  14. So a man is walking on Laguna Beach when he kicks over an old bottle that has drifted to the shore. The seal on the bottle breaks and a genie appears.

    “Good man”, says the genie, “you have freed me from 3,000 years of captivity. Tell me your dearest wish, and I shall grant it.”

    The man says: “I have always wanted to visit Hawaii, but I get deathly seasick and airsick, not to mention fearful of drowning or crashing. Can you build me a bridge so I can drive there?

    “Master”, says the genie, “it is within my power, but it is a colossal project that will use half the steel and concrete in the world. Can’t you think of something else?”

    “Well”, says the man, “could you give California a sane and responsible government? That would make the State a place no one would want to leave for Hawaii.”

    And the genie says: “Do you want a suspension bridge or a beam bridge?”

    nk (1d9030)

  15. Once it’s completed and running between Merced and Bakersfield, the cost will be obvious as will be the stupidity. So, it will be shut down.

    Don’t count on it. There will be those 100 daily riders who use it for whatever reason, so that along with the few dozen well-paying state jobs will be enough to keep it open. Attempts to shut it down via referendum or some other device will be struck down by Democrat-dominated courts as having “a disparate effect” on some protected class or other.

    JVW (ee64e4)

  16. Oh, and the 100 daily riders will all qualify for reduced fare or free tickets, paid for by the taxpayers.

    JVW (ee64e4)

  17. So we get to subsidize daily operations as well. Perfect.

    $20B for 164 miles of high speed rail from Bakersfield to Merced would work out to $120M per mile and that is the least expensive part of the project

    How long before the transients stumble on for free, smoke meth and fentanyl next to the ventilation system that goes to the engineer cabin

    Seattle has drivers going home mid shift:
    It smells like burnt peanut butter, mixed with brake fluid,” King County Metro Transit operator Erik Christensen told the Times.
    Nice bouquet on that vintage

    steveg (e81d76)

  18. The job security for union hacks is never ending as the construction will have failures and will have to be fixed on a routine schedule. Its another gubmint debacle just like the big dig in Boston. Mittens ran for govna on the lie he was going to get to the bottom of all the wasteful spending. Meanwhile the State Police had a driving range set up in one of the tunnels.

    mg (8cbc69)

  19. LGR

    mg (8cbc69)

  20. The bullet train is:
    A. A solution in search of a problem.

    B. Aimed right at the head of California taxpayers.

    It wasn’t a bad idea on a theoretical basis…..

    Yes it was. What problem is it solving?

    Rip Murdock (d2a2a8)

  21. It was a bad idea because it was based on Green Politics not reality.
    Flights from multiple LA area airports to SF Bay area airports are plentiful, cheap and fast. But they are murdering Gaia
    You can catch a flight on Southwest from Burbank to SFO for $208 Round trip and Burbank isn’t one of those airports with long waits. You’ll be portal to portal in less than three hours including check in. Less if you just have a carry on.
    LA to SF on the bullet train is now projected to cost $172 round trip and three hours is considered wildly optimistic.
    Planes fly over obstacles, and the route itself needs no ongoing maintenance

    steveg (e81d76)

  22. CA is corrupt throughout

    LA recently announced it had built housing for 87 homeless using shipping containers. The almost new shipping containers cost around $2,500.

    Cost per finished 135SF unit to LA?
    $427,000. Works out to $3,163 per sf of living space.
    Total cost to house only 87 of the thousands of homeless? About $37M

    steveg (e81d76)

  23. If anyone actually wants this thing built, they should hire a South Korean company, which would bring over many workers – needs special permission from Congress – to build it.

    Whether many people would actually use it is another matter, but it might be used in case of blackout when most peole have electric cars, or when gasoline is not very available. They’ve got to build maybe asports stadium and lots of free parking at the stations.

    Sammy Finkelman (02a146)

  24. 20. Rip Murdock (d2a2a8) — 3/16/2022 @ 9:30 am

    What problem is it solving?

    Jealously of trains that work in other places?

    Fast travel for people without driver’s licenses and who don’t want to fly?

    Lower fuel costs per person: important to people who feel Kant’s categorical imperative

    “Act only according to that maxim by which you can at the same time will that it should become a universal law”

    should aoply to energy use.

    Sammy Finkelman (02a146)

  25. If anyone actually wants this thing built, they should hire a South Korean company, which would bring over many workers – needs special permission from Congress – to build it.

    I don’t think it has much to do with the actual crew laying down rail and digging tunnels, Sammy. The real culprits here are the bureaucrats who still haven’t cleared right of way on dozens (perhaps hundreds?) of parcels through which the train is supposed to run. And that’s just for Bakersfield-Merced. The problem will be increased fifty-fold when they try to extend to Anaheim via Los Angeles and San Francisco via San Jose, and they will have to start figuring out how they are going to tunnel through mountains without upsetting muskrats and environmentalists. It is such a doomed project, and no South Korean experts are going to fix that which is manifestly broken.

    JVW (ee64e4)

  26. 25. The New York Times ran a column the other day on how environnmental law can stop projects and sid that Democrats are turning against it. (and you are right – the South Koreans come in after the right of way has been cleared)

    here’s a strange story unfolding in Berkeley, Calif., right now. That may present as a tautology, but bear with me. This one provides a window into a problem that endangers us all.

    An organization called Save Berkeley’s Neighborhoods, led by a former investment banker, sued the University of California, Berkeley, for adding too many students too quickly, without careful enough consideration of how bad students are for the environment….

    …Zoom out from the specifics, though, and look at what it reveals about how government, even in the bluest of blue communities, actually works. Why was it so easy for a few local homeowners to block U.C. Berkeley’s plans, over the opposition of not just the powerful U.C. system but also the mayor of Berkeley and the governor of California? The answer, in this case, was the California Environmental Quality Act — a bill proposed by environmentalists and signed into law in 1970 by Gov. Ronald Reagan that demands rigorous environmental impact reviews for public projects and that has become an all-purpose weapon for anyone who wants to stymie a new public project or one that requires public approval.

    There are laws like this in many states, and there’s a federal version, too: the National Environmental Policy Act. They’re part of a broader set of checks on development that have done a lot of good over the years but are doing a lot of harm now. When they were designed, these bills were radical reforms to an intolerable status quo. Now they are, too often, powerful allies of an intolerable status quo, rendering government plodding and ineffectual and making it almost impossible to build green infrastructure at the speed we need

    He justifies the law at the time but says it has become too strong.

    I want to say this as clearly as I can: Carson and Nader and those who followed them were, in important respects, right. The bills they helped pass — from the Clean Air Act to the National Environmental Policy Act — were passed for good reason and have succeeded brilliantly in many of their goals. That it’s easy to breathe the air in Los Angeles today is their legacy, and they should be honored for it.

    But as so often happens, one generation’s solutions have become the next generation’s problems. Processes meant to promote citizen involvement have themselves been captured by corporate interests and rich NIMBYs. Laws meant to ensure that government considers the consequences of its actions have made it too difficult for government to act consequentially. “It was as if liberals took a bicycle apart to fix it but never quite figured out how to get it running properly again,” Sabin writes.

    Sammy Finkelman (02a146)

  27. Yep, Sammy, the University of California vs. NIMBYs of Berkeley dust-up was an item in the Weekend Open Thread a couple of weeks back. Amazing story, unless you are familiar with how things work out here in which case this comes as no surprise at all.

    JVW (ee64e4)

  28. @Rip Murdock@20 The process of getting to and from SFO and LAX and flying from SFO to LAX or the reverse is awful. High speed rail is comfortable and efficient. Fuel for planes also isn’t going to get any cheaper as time goes on.

    Nic (896fdf)

  29. The process of getting to and from SFO and LAX and flying from SFO to LAX or the reverse is awful. High speed rail is comfortable and efficient. Fuel for planes also isn’t going to get any cheaper as time goes on.

    Does “One hundred billion dollars and still not done” make you any less comfortable?

    Me, I’d rather drive.

    Kevin M (38e250)

  30. Sammy, the real problem with environmental review of projects is that the worst thing may be “do nothing” but “do nothing” never requires a review.

    Kevin M (38e250)

  31. Yes it was. What problem is it solving?

    That airports are a terrible experience, with travel to the airport and parking and security and checking bags. None of this will happen with trains!


    Kevin M (38e250)

  32. If anyone actually wants this thing built, they should hire a South Korean company, which would bring over many workers – needs special permission from Congress – to build it.

    You can bring the SK management over, but require that they hire and, um, train locals Americans. Japanese also know how to do these things.

    But it should be for subways in Los Angeles. The entire state kicked in for BART; how soon they forget.

    Kevin M (38e250)

  33. @Kevin@29 I said above that it wasn’t a bad idea in theory, just couldn’t be done practically or economically, Rip asked what problem it would be solving. I have ridden high speed trains over in Europe, the train station experience is better than the airport one.

    Nic (896fdf)

  34. I have ridden high speed trains over in Europe, the train station experience is better than the airport one.

    My complaint is twofold. Perhaps the stronger complaint is that Los Angeles is in desperate need of mass transit, and should be building subways and elevated rail the way they built freeways 60 years ago, but the Train has sucked up every dime of federal money for transit.

    It would be a massive opportunity cost even if it wasn’t a bad idea.

    And yes, I have ridden trains and subways all over the world, and there are some places I would prefer that to cars or planes. But the United states has quite a good road and air system, a rather terrible long distance train system and an environmental review system designed to make every project ridiculously expensive. We aren’t Europe or Japan.

    The LA-SF corridor has 2 adequate methods of travel. There is no reason to believe that a high-speed rail line would be less onerous than air travel — the first guy with a gun would see to that. There are however, other needs which one hour driving the 405 will adequately demonstrate. And tehy are not being dealt with due to the gd Train.

    Kevin M (38e250)

  35. @Rip Murdock@20 The process of getting to and from SFO and LAX and flying from SFO to LAX or the reverse is awful. High speed rail is comfortable and efficient. Fuel for planes also isn’t going to get any cheaper as time goes on.

    Given the fact that the current projected completion date of Phase 1 is 2029, a lot can happen between now and then, such as a devastating earthquake breaking apart the system in multiple places. The money would be better spent on improving Interstate 5 and California Hwy 99 and the Los Angeles and San Francisco Airports.

    In addition, the implementing legislation, AB 3034, specified certain route and travel time requirements, none of which are realistic: a minimum speed of 200 miles per hour where conditions permit; a maximum travel time between SF and LA not to exceed 2 hours 40 min; and financially self-sustaining (operation and maintenance costs fully covered by revenue). These standards can only be changed by a ballot measure.

    Both the Due Diligence Report (2008) [prepared by the Reason Foundation, the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association, and Citizens Against Government Waste] and Updated Due Diligence Report (2013) [Reason Foundation] state that no existing high-speed system currently meets the proposed operation speed and safety goals. It notes that the highest cruising HSR speed in the world on production runs is about 200 miles per hour (320 km/h) in France, and this is significantly less than the sustained speed of 220 miles per hour (350 km/h) the California High Speed Rail Authority (CHSRA) Plan requires. They also note safety concerns in running at top speed through highly populated urban areas such as Fresno. For three years, Chinese HSR trains ran at 217 miles per hour (349 km/h), but the speeds were reduced due to safety concerns and costs. In fact a Siemens Velaro trainset without any modifications has posted a speed record well in excess of 400 kilometres per hour (250 mph), though economic considerations keep them limited to 320 kilometres per hour (200 mph) in revenue service. The French Alstom TGV Duplex is also able to sustain speeds of 360 km/h, as have shown several days of testing in 2008, not to mention all new TGV speed lines designed for 320 km/h are tested at the speed of 352 km/h (commercial speed + 10%) by TGVs.

    Source. Footnotes removed.

    In addition, the service will not be operated directly by the CHSRA, it will be operated by DB International US, which is the US subsidiary of Deutsche Bahn, the German national railway. No US-led group entered the bidding.

    Again, a solution in search of a problem.

    Rip Murdock (d2a2a8)

  36. If high speed rail was such a good idea, the existing railroads would have kept their passenger service rather than foisting their costs on the public.

    Rip Murdock (d2a2a8)

  37. 32. Kevin M (38e250) — 3/16/2022 @ 6:46 pm

    But it should be for subways in Los Angeles. The entire state kicked in for BART; how soon they forget.

    But isn’t there an argument that buses or trollwys are better than subways? (one counterargument is that subway pr rail routes are more permanent and people can rely more on their continued existence)

    Stalin built subways in Moscow and Kharkov and Kiev, but that was to show off to foreigners.

    Sammy Finkelman (46ec7d)

  38. But it should be for subways in Los Angeles.

    Los Angeles already has a subway/light rail system, and it is currently expanding. Over 100 million used the system in 2018.

    Rip Murdock (d2a2a8)

  39. I noticed this interesting historical parallel, mentioned almost in passing, without comment:

    Then on May 19, 2021, the Biden administration removed sanctions on Russia’s Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline to Germany, which had been imposed by President Donald Trump, without concessions from Russia. Mr. Biden renewed sanctions late that summer, but he had already sent the wrong signal.

    In late May, Mr. Biden issued his defense budget. Mr. Putin surely realized a 1.6% increase was—after inflation—a decline in American military spending. That too suggested weakness.

    Then, before a mid-June summit between the two leaders, Mr. Biden paused a $100 million military aid package to Ukraine, signaling again to Mr. Putin a lack of American resolve. It took until September for the U.S. to restart military assistance to Ukraine—and even then, a bipartisan group of senators criticized the package as inadequate.

    This sounds almost exactly like what President Trump did in 2019, although for different reasons, and you can add that both probably were manipulated into doing it by Vladimir Putin.

    Sammy Finkelman (46ec7d)

  40. Wrong thread.

    Sammy Finkelman (46ec7d)

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