California is Building High-Speed Rail
California is pushing forward with its high-speed rail project. Your support has never been more vital. Click the button at the bottom to make your voice heard.
Here’s what’s at stake:
Los Angeles to San Francisco in under 3 hours
When the project is completed, high-speed trains will zip from San Francisco to Los Angeles in under three hours. (Express trains will cover the distance in just 2 hours, 40 minutes!)
High-speed rail is about a lot more than just connecting the Bay Area and LA. A mix of local and express trains will serve more than 15 cities on the main trunk line.
And coordinated connections with California’s extensive network of trains and buses will add hundreds of cities across the state.
The upshot of fast trains and integrated service will be a 10x increase in ridership, statewide.
A Major Breakthrough
The project promises to be a paradigm-shifting breakthrough for California–and for the U.S.–in three key ways.
Connecting cities and regions. Mobility is key to productivity. Productivity is key to a vibrant economy. An electrified high-speed line will slash travel times by up to half, make trips for business and pleasure all over the state easy and affordable, and give a big boost to the California economy.
Reducing road construction and congestion. Los Angeles and the Bay Area have some of the most gridlocked highways in the nation. The high-speed line will offer safe and stress-free rides, ease congestion, and eliminate the need for new roads and airports. The California High Speed Authority estimates that the state would have to build 4,300 miles of new highway lanes and 115 new airport gates to equal the passenger capacity of the new line.
Cutting fossil fuel consumption. California has the most ambitious climate-change plan in the nation. It aims to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 40 percent (from 1990 levels) by 2030. Transportation is the greatest source of emissions, so tackling climate change means transforming how people move around. High-speed rail is the solution. The electrified line will run on 100 percent renewable energy.
California is taking the Phased Network Approach to its high-speed rail system, which means that segments of high-speed line are gradully added to the state’s already robust network of trains and buses.
As the network expands, each new segment connects with existing commuter rail, passenger rail, and bus systems. So the whole network steadily becomes stronger and more integrated. The whole becomes more than the sum of the parts.
Two high-impact segments are already under construction: 171 miles of high-speed line in the Central Valley and commuter rail (CalTrain) electrification in the Silicon Valley.
Construction on a segment to Las Vegas (being privately built) will begin shortly.
Leaders in the Los Angeles Basin are actively seeking funds to modernize the Burbank - LA - Anaheim segment.
Planning and environmental documents for the mountain crossings will likely be approved later this year.
Building our nation's vaunted Interstate Highway System was projected to cost $25 billion and take 12 years. Instead it cost $114 billion (in 1956 dollars) and took 35 years. But the nation stayed the course because it delivered a lot of value to drivers and a big boost to the American economy. And it fit perfectly with the values of that era.
Similarly, California's high-speed rail project faces significant challenges and a steep hill to climb. As with the Interstate Highway System, it will encounter unexpected delays and budget increases.
But that doesn’t make the project a poor investment.
Spain's AVE high-speed system was popularly declared a boondoggle and a guaranteed failure as construction began. Now it's a wildly popular asset that the country couldn’t imagine itself without.
The same will be true of California high-speed rail. It’s an economy-boosting, gridlock-busting engine of progress that fits the values of this new era—the era of climate change. As with the Interstate Highway System, we’ll look back one day and wonder how the state ever functioned without it, and what the fuss was all about.