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California High Speed Rail

December 17, 2015

This past week I spoke at the US High Speed Rail Conference in Los Angeles, giving me the opportunity to see the progress made on the first true high-speed line in the United States.  

My first stop was the high-speed rail exhibit at the California Railroad Museum in Sacramento.  Everyday, hundreds of kids and their parents “drive” a bullet train in a high-speed rail simulator, learn about high-speed rail development around the world and then experience the comfort of business class in a Siemens Velaro mock-up. It is a great way for the general public to see high-speed rail first hand.

Next, I was able to see the first 125-mph locomotive for Illinois and the first 125-mph coach for All Aboard Florida during a Siemen’s factory tour.

I continued my way north and drove to Sacramento via Bakersfield and Palmdale. The long drive and large amount of traffic demonstrated the need for high-speed rail on this corridor. State Route 99, which runs down the Central Valley, is a dangerous stretch of road that is always busy. The air was so thick with pollution that it obscured the mountains. Likewise, high-speed rail will transform the lives of thousands of families by providing a real alternative to the horrible rush hour drive between Los Angeles and Palmdale.

On the drive I was able to see the new bridge being built over the Fresno River near Madera.  It was great to see that construction really is underway!

The California High Speed Rail Authority has done tremendous behind the scenes work that will pay off soon and the Midwest will benefit directly by the standards and practices they have developed.

There is still a lot of work to be done.  The Authority is working to accelerate construction and "Dams or Trains" billboards along Route 99 show that opposition still exists.

But, we can celebrate 2015 as the year high-speed rail construction started in the US.


Richard Harnish
Executive Director

Click here if you would like to view pictures from my California trip.

Articles We Enjoyed:

In dry California, dams or high-speed rail is a false choice
“Water is not simple, and neither are the needs of a rapidly growing state. McCarthy’s simplistic, billboard-inspired campaign falls seriously short of a roadmap for the future of the complex, embattled region.”

Laurel, Howard County make plea for more commuter rail service
“The city of Laurel and Howard County are joining forces to urge CSX Transportation to allow the expansion of commuter rail service in the Laurel area.”

Charleston Amtrak line’s ridership up in 2015
"Charleston was one of two West Virginia stations to see an increase in ridership in 2015."

Japanese fund to invest in Texas Central bullet train
"A Japanese public-private fund has announced its intention to invest $40 million in Texas Central Partners LLP's proposed bullet-train service between Houston and Dallas."

$325 billion transportation bill could spur Gulf Coast Amtrak line
"Mobilians could board a train destined for New Orleans in as soon as three to five years, according to a passenger rail service advocacy group."

Upcoming Events:

Japan High-Speed Rail Tour

This trip will give everyone an opportunity to enjoy the rich history of train travel the country offers. We are creating an itinerary that includes riding the first high-speed rail line, visiting at least one railroad museum and meetings with experts in the field. We have already begun making contacts to arrange technical visits and train tours. We have received enough interest to begin finalizing the details of the trip.

Please click here if you would like to learn more or are interested in joining the trip.

Please click here if you are ready to make a $500 fully-refundable deposit for the trip.

Richard Harnish
Midwest High Speed Rail Association
4765 N. Lincoln Ave.
Chicago, IL 60625