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question everything Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Apr-30-07 12:28 AM
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High-speed train line plan may be derailed
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From the Los Angeles Times

High-speed train line plan may be derailed

Schwarzenegger moves to slash funding for the state's $40-billion system, citing other transportation needs.
By Marc Lifsher
Times Staff Writer

April 29, 2007

For more than a decade, policymakers have debated, studied and scoped out a high-speed rail line that would whisk travelers between downtown Los Angeles and San Francisco in 2 1/2 hours. But, this year, the $40-billion dream of building a Japanese- or European-style bullet train through the Central Valley may find itself stopped in its tracks.

Even as state lawmakers visited France earlier this month for a glimpse of a passenger train as it set a world rail speed record of 357 mph, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger was applying the brakes to California's plan for a high-speed system... Schwarzenegger asked the Legislature in his 2007 budget to slash money for the California High-Speed Rail Authority. In addition, the governor also wants lawmakers to postpone indefinitely a $9.95-billion rail bond issue that is slated to appear on the November 2008 ballot.


The governor's moves come as the rail authority, which already has cleared its first environmental hurdles, is about to begin some crucial steps, including engineering, right-of-way acquisition and financial planning. At stake is a 700-mile rail corridor with no potentially dangerous vehicle crossings. It would follow several routes from Sacramento and the San Francisco Bay Area south through Bakersfield to Los Angeles and San Diego. Rolling along at up to 220 mph, the electric-powered train would zip passengers between Los Angeles' Union Station and downtown San Francisco as fast as the fastest plane trip, planners say factoring in the time to get to the airport and go through security. And commuters could speed from Anaheim to downtown L.A. in 20 minutes, instead of today's 45-minute Metrolink journey.

Critics see the high-speed train as a potential boondoggle that would be a drain on the state Treasury and a loser that would never pay for itself. Consider, they say, the poor performance of most long-distance U.S. passenger rail service. They also note that an effort to build a bullet train system between San Diego and Los Angeles in the early 1980s collapsed after coastal residents balked at environmental problems with a route close to the ocean. Subsequent attempts to link Southern California and Las Vegas with high-speed rail have failed to gain traction.

Supporters disagree. They cite the train's speed, convenience and its less-controversial route. Backers say that based on ridership estimates, the train could rack up an annual operating surplus of as much as $2 billion by 2030.

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