The cost of the initial San Francisco-to-Anaheim segment was
originally estimated by the CHSRA to be
US$35.7 billion (in 2009
dollars) or US$42.6 billion,
but a revised
business plan released in November 2011 by the CHSRA put the cost at
US$65.4 billion (in 2010
dollars) or US$98.5 billion
(in "inflated" dollars based on future inflation predictions). An
implementation plan approved in August 2005 estimated that it would take
eight to eleven years to "develop and begin operation of an initial
segment of the California high-speed train."
It will also share tracks with
Metrolink using a
quadruple track configuration.
UCLA study of Japan's bullet train raises questions
about California project
A new UCLA economic analysis ofJapan'sShinkansen bullet train
and its impact on the growth of cities along its route calls
into question claims by state officials that California's
high-speed rail project will create up to 400,000 permanent
Japan's vaunted bullet train began in the mid-1960s, and it
did not generate higher economic growth or additional jobs,
according to the
Written by Jerry Nickelsburg, senior economist with the UCLA
Anderson Forecast, the study said there may be other
justifications for bullet train service between Los Angeles and
San Francisco, but the $68-billion project as an engine of
economic growth "will have only a marginal impact at best."
Nickelsburg examined the growth rates of cities and regions
served by Japan's system, compared to the nation's overall rate
of growth, and found that the introduction of high-speed
passenger service had no discernible effect.
The analysis looked at nearly a dozen urban and rural
prefectures and found no evidence that the introduction of
bullet train service improved tax revenues, which was used as a
proxy for local gross domestic product. In one case, one region
without high-speed rail service grew just as quickly as a
similar region with it. The study examined economic activity
over a 30-year period.
If the study's predictions are accurate, it would undermine
one of the major justifications for the California project.
Labor unions and
business organizations have been among its biggest
supporters, envisioning an infrastructure that would serve
public transportation needs, provide high-paying jobs to
unemployed workers and create opportunities for businesses that
depend on moving people around the state.
On Thursday, the California High-Speed Rail Authority
responded to the study by referring questions to UC Merced
lecturer Dipu Gupta, who said he disagrees with the central
conclusion that the project would not spur growth. Gupta, an
architect and urban designer, said high-speed rail benefits an
economy as a whole, so comparing growth rates of specific cities
misses its ability to "lift all boats."
Nickelsburg agrees that transportation investments tend to
lower costs, create markets and improve efficiency, but that is
truer for freight improvements. Japan's bullet train lowered the
transportation costs for commuters, giving rise to the legendary
Japanese "salaryman," who commuted from a high-density
apartment complex to a dreary city job aboard a crowded
bullet train. California bullet train enthusiasts have a much
different vision, foreseeing a day when the Central Valley
becomes a more vibrant economic center that is better connected
to the Bay Area and Southern California.
Nickelsburg also raises the possibility that the train will
create rather than contain urban sprawl. By increasing the
potential for workers to live far from their
employment, it would not create new jobs but move them to
the Central Valley. That kind of sprawl will require tight land
use and zoning restrictions, Gupta said.
A spokesman for the rail authority did not directly comment
on Nickelsburg's analysis but offered a list of other studies by
transit agencies, railroad groups and the authority's own
consultants that predict high-speed transportation projects
would spur economic growth. Nickelsburg cited other studies that
support his contention.
I am so thrilled I can hardly contain my joy! The
very thought of spending billions to travel back and
forth between Madera and Bakerfield causes me to just
overflow. I'll bet I can even stop at all the hot spots
along the way. This has to be the biggest Democrat/Union
boondoggle in state history!!! With cities failing,
educaton closing down, essential services being cut back
and/or eliminated, I can only speculate how and when we
lost our minds???
Train to no where, who is getting bribed for this?
But lets cut education to pay for it. Yep makes sense in
Jerry Brown's rose colored world.
• Honeybees: Wind from passing trains is not expected to create
significant effects. Because of the streamlined design of the
trains, Diener said, the expected windspeed would be about 2 mph at
the edge of the railroad right of way -- too weak, he said, to
"Honeybees are normally placed in quiet spots away from
high-traffic areas, not usually placed right next to highways or
railroads," Diener said.
• Irrigation: This poses a significant engineering challenge, he
said. In addition to crossing numerous canals and ditches operated
by irrigation districts, the trains "will encounter an individual
irrigation system on virtually every significant agricultural parcel
in the Valley," the report says.
But solutions to individual problems will be available, and
construction will be timed to avoid disrupting ditches when water is
being provided to farmers. Also, farmers will be able to negotiate
with right-of-way agents for any changes that are needed to
• Cows: There are more unknowns here. The report says that while
cows exposed to recorded jet-aircraft noise at 80 decibels or less
did not produce less milk, more
studies need to be done on cattle in conditions where operations
are within 350 feet of trains.
Diener said, "We're dealing with an
electric train instead of a diesel train that BNSF currently
runs, so this will be much quieter than that."
The Rail Authority says it wants to communicate better with San
Joaquin Valley farmers who worry about 220 mph trains racing across
Tuesday's presentation aimed at answering those concerns was a
start. But not everyone is convinced.
Frank Oliveira, a Hanford farmer and member of the Kings County
rail opposition group Citizens for High-Speed Rail Accountability,
said the promises ring hollow.
"Good faith is going to have to be a part of this," he said, "and
we don't have a lot of good faith based on past experiences."
Oliveira and other Kings County residents have, for more than a
year, accused the rail authority of ignoring their concerns about
the project's potential disruption of farms, businesses and
Jeff Morales, the authority's CEO, said the Agriculture Working
Group was formed to answer questions and allay some fears.
Diener was appointed last year to lead the group, which includes
farmers, university researchers and agricultural extension experts
who studied questions about concerns raised by Valley ag interests.
One issue not directly addressed Tuesday was how the authority
expects to acquire right of way for its tracks.
Outreach consultant Bart Bohn, a former Fresno County chief
administrator, said the authority must give valley farmers a better
idea about how that will
"In our public meetings, after the presentations, the property
owners herd us to the maps because they want to see what's going to
happen to their land," Bohn said.
So far, however, rail officials have only been able to discuss in
generalities how the process will work and how a farmer's property
could be affected.
The high-speed rail line proposed through the Valley will affect
hundreds of farms in Merced, Madera, Fresno, Kings, Tulare and Kern
counties, Bohn said.
Bohn said the authority has to compensate farmers not only for
property used for the railroad right of way, but also to replace or
relocate wells, buildings and other infrastructure that have to make
way for the tracks.
But until the environmental process is completed, he added, it
will be impossible to know exactly how each property may be
Among possible solutions for farmers whose land the tracks cross:
new crossings to accommodate frequent movement of farm equipment
from one side of the tracks to the other "when justified," Bohn
said; replacing wells or irrigation systems; or building pipelines
or rerouting canals and ditches to keep water flowing.