Urban Transport

California to get America's fastest high-speed rail line

An artist's impression of California's new high-speed train
An artist's impression of California's new high-speed train
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Ultimately, plans call for the line to run 800 miles (1,287 km) from Sacramento to San Diego, incorporating up to 24 stops along the way
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Ultimately, plans call for the line to run 800 miles (1,287 km) from Sacramento to San Diego, incorporating up to 24 stops along the way
Not much information is available on the train itself, although it will be electric, running entirely on renewable energy
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Not much information is available on the train itself, although it will be electric, running entirely on renewable energy
An artist's impression of California's new high-speed train
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An artist's impression of California's new high-speed train
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When people grumble about how they think the US isn’t as technologically advanced as it should be, they like to bring up bullet trains – Europe and Asia have them, so why doesn’t America? Well, it’s getting one. Work is starting this summer on a high-speed rail line running from San Francisco to Los Angeles, that will carry a passenger train traveling at over 200 mph (322 km/h).

The first part of the line to be built will be a 65-mile (105 km) stretch between the Californian cities of Fresno and Merced, with the SF to LA run scheduled for completion in 2029. At that time, it is projected that passengers will be able to make the whole trip in three hours. Ultimately, plans call for the line to run 800 miles (1,287 km) from Sacramento to San Diego, incorporating up to 24 stops along the way.

Not much information is available on the train itself, although it will be electric, running entirely on renewable energy
Not much information is available on the train itself, although it will be electric, running entirely on renewable energy

Not much information is available on the train itself, although it will be electric, running entirely on renewable energy – a combination of wind, solar, geothermal and biogas. Construction of the line should also be carbon-neutral, as trees will be planted to offset the carbon generated in the construction process. In fact, the main purpose of the project is to lower the state of California's total greenhouse gas emissions.

So far, only US$10 billion of the project’s $68 billion price tag has been raised, although it is hoped that investors from countries such as China may be able to help make up the difference.

Amtrak’s Acela Express is currently the fastest train in the US, capable of a maximum speed of 150 mph (241 km/h) – although it typically travels at about half that speed. Depending on whose definition you go by, that may or may not qualify it as a high-speed train.

Source: State of California (PDF) via Inhabitat

51 comments
Freyr Gunnar
> The first part of the line to be built will be a 65-mile (105 km) stretch between the Californian cities of Fresno and Merced, with the SF to LA run scheduled for completion in 2029. There are 558 km/347 miles between LA and SF. It took the Chinese only 4 years (2008-2012) to build the 1400 km/870 mile Beijing–Shanghai high-speed line. Why would the California line take so much more time? > Not much information is available on the train itself, although it will be electric, running entirely on renewable energy – a combination of wind, solar, geothermal and biogas. Nuclear is also green, and a lot more efficient. Just build new, safer 3G nuclear plants.
Nick Aspinwall
2029? I can't believe it will take 16 years to complete the project if and when it ever gets started. I feel like in other nations it would take maybe 5 years max to complete. Also, by the time they are finished with the line it will most likely be completely outdated. I would love a high speed rail line, and I think we need them throughout American, but this sounds like a failure already.
justme70
"running entirely on renewable energy.... Construction of the line should also be carbon-neutral..." That. Right there. Two physically impossible goals for the project, listed one right after the other. IF this thing gets built, you can tack an extra three zeros onto the price tag.
kar
They say 68biliion, so figure 136billion. They say 200mph, so figure an average speed of 100mph after acceleration and deceleration between stops. Then there is the time it takes to load and unload passengers. Average speed by car is well under 47mph in poor traffic. The time savings won't be much, but at least you can sleep on a train. Not sure how it compares to electric cars or hybrid cars, plus you still need to drive to the train station, find a parking spot, then wait for the train.
doc w
Looking into this a few years ago I ran across details of the trains; they will be Japanese design and likely the components will be built there. This is a no-brainer, the Japanese have half a century of experience with their high speed trains. No sense trying to reinvent the wheel as the BART system did.
Cyberxbx
Right below in "related articles" is this story: http://www.gizmag.com/china-high-speed-train-311mph/20976/ so we are still WAY behind the curve, that was a Jan 2012 article. ...... And did anybody read the article about a Japanese road rebuilt after the earthquake in only 6 days: http://www.autoblog.com/2011/03/24/japanese-repair-quake-ravaged-road-in-just-six-days/ They have been working on the same patch of road in my home town for 8 months!.... and it is only 3 blocks long. ....... Even the majority of technology articles these days are saying :Zurich discovered this, and Korea invented that, etc. So yes, we are still WAAAAY behind, not because of a lack of Ideas, or creativity..... but because of the bureaucracy, cost, and restrictions about coming up with something new and novel in this country. The cost to build this bullet train in my opinion is a 40M$ project. Maybe less. But zoning restrictions, paperwork, finance, lawyer fees, etc. will balloon that to a MUCH larger number. ....... Off my soap box now.
Chris Maresca
I live in SF and, as much as I like the idea of a train to LA, it's just a huge waste of money. Flying takes around 3 hours if you include the journey to the airport & your final destination. Driving takes 5-6 hours depending on where in LA you are going, traffic & how fast you drive. And you have a car.... If you are going to LA, you NEED a car. There is no way to realistically get around without one. So the train takes 3 hours, you need 30-45 minutes to get to the station, 30-45 to get from the station after spending 15 minutes picking up your car.... The savings going by train is what - 15 minutes - over using your own car? And easily 2 hours more than flying. Like I said, the whole thing is a waste of money. Never mind that SF is on a dead-end peninsula on top of it, so no train coming here...
Milton
Screw this... Let's build the Hyper-Loop!
EvanJD
What happened to Elon Musk's proposed super fast non rail based new mode of transport... forgotten the name but Gizmag has featured it regularly.... - You're thinking of the Hyperloop http://www.gizmag.com/musk-hyperloop-design-reveal-august-12/28334/ - Ed.
Slowburn
The idea that High Speed Rail is some sort of technological triumph is foolish at best. The only advantage that it has over flying that adding an average of a ton to the weight of each passenger does not doom the enterprise so that it would be practical to take the train and take your car with you or even ride in it. (If you happen to be allergic to perfume you will really understand the advantage.) Importantly in this case is that the California project is not about building a high speed rail route it is about putting tax money into the pockets of the well connected.