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That’s still going on?

That’s still going on?

During my morning peruse through the paper, I found a shocking headline: Bullet train cost estimates rise to $98.5 billion.

I wasn’t surprised at the cost; it’s well-established that “infrastructure spending” is a fancy way of saying “giant black money hole.” (Hooray for inflation to boot!) I’m just surprised that California hasn’t nixed this one to allot spending towards something even sillier, like banning infrequent nose-blowers. Even my leftist classmates concede that California, Florida, etc. do not need high speed rail and they sometimes entertain that it may not be worth the effort.

I’m really intrigued by the high speed rail obsession. It’s patently obvious – to me, at least – that it’s a terrible idea. Our cities are spread apart further than in Europe, we can’t run freight trains on high speed rails so it would be an enormous investment, the one we have now is a money pit that doesn’t even go fast, etc. The most satisfactory explanation I’ve heard is that this agenda is President Obama’s monument to himself. Eisenhower had the highways and Obama wants the railways.


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Kathleen, even my old transportation geography professor, who was the biggest train fanatic and collector of train memorabilia you’d ever want to meet, called ideas of high-speed rail for America boondoggle nonsense.

Outside of that, it’s the answer to all our problems …

Bu…but…it is public transport…!!!

So, it is GOOD. Right…?

Except, no. If it was good, the market would provide it.

What people fail to remember or acknowledge is the fact that today’s railroads were built by private enterprise when passenger service was profitable.

Unless every passenger car is taken off the road, there is no chance that mass public transit of any sort could ever become profitable.

This whole process needs to evolve to whatever state awaits…

    Check into that “profitability” thing a little more. With only one or two exceptions, railroads carried passengers because they had to, based on the terms of Federal Laws that gave them so much property for right-of-way, plus, plus, plus. Hauling goods “paid the freight” [the origination of that term], passengers were merely a necessary evil. Most express freight runs took rail priority over express passenger trains.

Is there anywhere in the world where passenger rail transportation is profitable? If there is, I’d want to audit the figures before I believed them.

If it’s not profitable, that probably means it’s not really needed.

High speed rail can be used as force projection for domestic troops in times of civil disturbance. They are much faster than highways and avoid all traffic and civilians. That’s why “high speed rail” keeps coming up, over and over, and ALWAYS from government. This is the same government that wants, BEGS to disarm this population, so if they cannot do that, they want to make sure they have troop suppression on tap for if and when those guns ever get used.
Our federal highway system was mentioned. What is the other purpose for our highway system? Airstrips. This is why they where designed with certain numbers of straightaways every couple of miles. Look it up. As the professor pointed out, these high speed trains cannot be used for heavy cargo, and there is very little chance that enough people will use these costly trains enough to make up the money that is paid in to creating them.

Also notice the one working bullet train line in use today is operating in the northeast and starts/ends in DC. That’s not a coincidence.

Ah yes. A suitable monument for the curious amalgam of socialist zealot, racial revanchist, confused Islamist, and incompetent ninnyhammer that is B. H. Obama: A high-speed train that isn’t and never will be. Perhaps more appropriate would be to name a neutron star, or better a black hole, after this cosmic mistake.

Community Organizations (Urban) dream of public transportation for low income folks who don’t own cars, people living in urban setting and doing away with suburbs (clutter). Doesn’t matter whether it works or not it is their Utopia. I’m sure environmentalists love it too.

Until they can make the train from NYC to Syracuse run reliably enough that the trip takes no more than 15% longer than Syracuse to NYC, not one penny more.

Midwest Rhino (not RINO) | November 1, 2011 at 3:55 pm

“Gigantomania” …. the creation of abnormally large works.

According to the Marxist theory, socialism must triumph historically over capitalism. Soviet rulers attempted to prove the superiority of the socialist system by the creation of gigantic industrial complexes, huge farms, colossal buildings, and enormous statues.

Obama wants His big trains, His big union complexes, and maybe he even believed in His big solar companies and His electric cars. But mostly he is good at breaking things others have built, even as he stumbles at successfully building anything.

Jets use prodigious amounts of fuel and allow the hoi polloi to travel and conduct business and MINGLE with others more worthy. (it’s why they loved the SST. The cost kept out the riff-raff)

Speeding trains are soooo European and Japanese and cultured.

They have no clue that
a. because japan and europe were bombed to within an inch of their lives, their rails had to be entirely rebuilt.
b. The US didn’t and thus although the rails can be replaced the grade crossings (vehicle crossing) still exist as they did since the mid 19th century. Not conducive for high speed rail.
c.Their right of way remains mostly the same which means that most curves are 60mph max and rail lines go right through many cities. Europe and Japan were able to change the right of way and straighten out the routes and bypass cities.
d. we’re a larger country so a rail trip is not reasonably short even at bullet train speeds. Not economical.

They don’t want to invest money in Highways anymore (cars == fuel == pollution). And there’s already more airline traffic than can be handled with the current system of airports and adding more airports won’t make that better. Besides the Airlines are profit making companies so no room for the Gov to build/invest/ in it.

Once again the liberals show that they don’t want to live in the US, they want to live in Europe or some other CULTURED country that we helped rebuild after the war.

    JayDick in reply to jakee308. | November 1, 2011 at 4:56 pm

    An important addition to your list: high speed passenger rail and normal freight service are incompatible. They can’t use the same rails because all of the requirements are too different. Thus, new rights of way would be needed for high speed passenger service, or at least new (different) sets of rails along existing rights of way. Very, very, expensive.

If someone were willing to make the hard choices, there are certain high-speed rail corridors which could make sense. Consider the following specified routes:

– A LA to Las Vegas corridor
– A Las Vegas to Phoenix corridor
– A Phoenix to El Paso corridor with a pass-through stop in Tuscon and a stop in Lordsburg (each about 1/3rd way, each leg being about 150 miles).

For these three routes, there are VAST stretches of unoccupied land, which while currently used for cattle grazing, could likely be easily taken under eminent domain reasonably inexpensively to make straight, high speed rail. If each corridor had its own dedicated train line, only moving between the cities possibly several times a day, it COULD make sense.

The catch is the cost. There’s roughly enough air traffic between the individual hubs to make it make sense IF the price of the tickets can be competitive with airfare between the hub cities, and end-to-end travel (which would be harder).

Routes that don’t make sense:
– An LA to San Diego line doesn’t make sense simply because of the population density. You won’t be able to get straight lines without displacing a lot of population.

– An LA to San Franscisco line might make sense if it’s planned properly, but would have to end well outside the cities on each end. Maybe if there were a dedicated bus route from the terminal to the central bus station, but getting the rail lines downtown would be a nightmare.

In order to make it work, people would have to come to grips with the fact that it’s not going to stop in every little town. To be effective, it has to hit large population centers and that’s about it. The romantic idea of “well, I’ll just walk to the train station and get to where I’m going” is only something that works in Europe.

Unfortunately, the populace is going to cry out “why the big cities and not our little hamlet?” Which then will destroy the whole point, and we’ll end up with another Amtrak (barely used, overpriced, and slow).

    I can see potentially acceptable passenger loads between LA and LV, and between LV and PHX. But are you sure there would be enough folks for more than once a day runs between PHX and ELP without a stop in ABQ? [Assuming Lordsburg was included to accommodate La Raza]?

    And btw, the number of grazing cattle you’ll find between LA and LV can probably be counted on the fingers of one hand. Unless they’re grazing on cacti.

The most satisfactory explanation I’ve heard is that this agenda is President Obama’s monument to himself.

That explains why the currently-proposed route in California runs from nowhere to nowhere. I expect that the trains will be allowed only to run backwards on it, as well.

It’s worth pointing out that Rail might make sense if we dump this whole “For the whole country” dribble. Rail can be profitable over the short hauls, with airlines picking up the longer hauls. But we’d have to break it down regionally, something many people don’t understand. So you may get your STL-CHI route, but don’t expect CHI to DC. Of course (like higher education) any Gov’t involvement will just drive up the price to whatever the Gov’t is willing to pay, meaning they likely should stay as far away as possible.

High speed rail is not for the people. It’s an avenue to get money to the unions, and payback for political favors.

Liberals hate freedom, especially the freedom of individuals using internal combustion machines known as automobiles. However, they love statist control, hence high speed rail, schedules, you can’t just drop everything and go at a moment’s notice on your own schedule at your own accepted cost. You can’t be trusted with your own decisions, you must have the paternalistic liberal making your best decisions for you whether you like it or not.
As for the cost of this monstrosity, I’m surprised it’s only 98 billion in the red. The Chinese executive/minister of high speed rail projects recently resigned due to extreme overcosts (and that is in china where slave wages are paid-imagine the overages where unions are involved here) and rampant corruption. Those are the twin seeds of liberalism, profligacy and corruption.