Train to Nowhere

Apparently, Congress just before the election appropriated $900 million to build part of a high speed rail line in CA.  Rather than focusing either on LA or SF, Congress apparently appropriated the money for a mostly rural district that just coincidentally had a Democratic Congressman embroiled in a difficult election.  So now Congress has dedicated a billion dollars of your money for this high speed rail line, from Borden to Corcoran:

I am not kidding you.  More here from the AntiPlanner.

I discussed the CA high speed rail project here and here.  I discussed the practice of building even one useless section as a way to commit the public to building the whole thing here.  An excerpt of how this is done the Chicago way:

But what is really amazing is that Chicago embarked on building a $320 million downtown station for the project without even a plan for the rest of the line "” no design, no route, no land acquisition, no appropriation, no cost estimate, nothing.  There are currently tracks running near the station to the airport, but there are no passing sidings on these tracks, making it impossible for express and local trains to share the same track.  The express service idea would either require an extensive rebuilding of the entire current line using signaling and switching technologies that may not (according to Daley himself) even exist, or it requires an entirely new line cut through some of the densest urban environments in the country.  Even this critical decision on basic approach was not made before they started construction on the station, and in fact still has not been made.


  1. Mesa Econoguy:

    Geologically, that may be the safest place to build a rail line, inside the fault.

    When The Big One â„¢ happens, there ain't gonna be much around the coast.

    [advance apologies to our CA readers here] The best thing that could happen to Cali right now is a massive earthquake.

  2. Highway:

    Wow, High Speed Rail... for Fresno. What'd they do, dust off their plans for a subway and turn it into high speed rail?

    What a moronic plan. And don't even get started on the people defending this at the AntiPlanner's link...

  3. Fred from Canuckistan:

    Reminds of the Global Warming Gravy Train . . . it is going nowhere either.

  4. Dan:

    Even more sublty than just committing to building it, it commits to a single route choice. By placing the demostration route east of the I-5 corridor, it takes any coastal routes out of the picture immediatley.

    @Mesa - common misconception - There will not be a single "Big One" earthquake that takes out the entire california coast, but several smaller ones over a few centuries. LA and SF are both vulnerable, but tot to a single quake.

  5. Country Thinker:

    Although the pricetag is much smaller, we have our own "Bridge to Nowhere" here in rural Knox County, Ohio. It is an old rail bridge that was recently removed, renovated, and reinstalled for $817,000. We have dozens like it, so it's not that unique historically. It is about 50 feet from a functioning road bridge, and goes from a canoe access parking lot to private property.

    Government waste has found its way into every nook and cranny of the country.

  6. Sean:

    The SacBee had an article on this. There are many in the CA legislature reluctant to fund the states portion. Apparently, this was rushed through to help re-elect a democratic congressman bring home a bit more bacon. The cost to buy votes in Congress is getting awfully expensive.

  7. Bram:

    I like how it runs perfectly parallel to the 5 and 99 Freeways through a sparsely populated section of CA. The uselessness is obvious to anyone who can read a map.

    To the 3 people who live in Borden and work in Corcoran, this is going to be great. We would save a lot of money if we just gave each of them $10 million to move.

  8. Bob:

    Sounds like the LA Metro system which runs directly from downtown to the airport. Oh, wait... no, it's from downtown on the Silver line to the Green line, which runs directly to the airport... er, right... not exactly to the airport, but to Redondo beach, about 15 miles south of the airport. From there, it's a quick and easy bus ride to the airport! What could be more convenient and efficient for one of the world's biggest cities and busiest airports?

  9. Mike Co.:

    The magnitude of this project boggles the mind. From the "California Benefits" PDF on their website, they claim 600,000 construction jobs, and 450,000 permanent jobs to run the 800 miles of track. (450k is not a typo.) And $4.5 billion to construct 60 of 800 miles of track.

    That 450,000 chunk of unionized pensioned workers is quite a juicy chunk of meat to the political guys running the show.

  10. Lloyd:

    Here’s a question worth pondering. Our proposed multi-billion dollar
    > high speed rail through the San Joaquin Valley is not following
    > Highway 99 as it should. The proposed path veers over to Corcoran, of
    > all places, which just happens to be headquarters for the 200,000-acre
    > J.G. Boswell Co., a farming company also heavily into urban developments. Coincidence? I think not.

  11. Not Sure:

    How many endangered bugs will be driven to extinction by this project? Don't they matter, after all? Or is it okay because it's for a "good cause"?

    Just wondering...

  12. Jim:

    Makes perfect much sense as the mayor and people of progressive Palo Alto who are NIMBY about high-speed "green" rail going through their zip code.
    Can't connect to SF without going through PA

  13. Floyd McWilliams:

    What's really hilarious is Central Valley politicians huffing and puffing about the waste of money ( -- because their boondoggle (Merced to Fresno) didn't get built instead.

  14. Smokey:

    High speed rail is lunacy, doubled and squared. For $49 Southwest Airlines will take you from San Jose to San Diego in one hour and ten minutes.

    I used to regularly take the train on a much shorter trip, from San Jose to Sacramento. You would think that's a straight shot, since the tracks go from point A to point B.


    Halfway through the [long, 3 1/2 hour trip, which is only 2 hours by car], everyone was hustled off the train, marched across the terminal to the bus depot, and put on buses. The buses drove several miles to another terminal, where everyone was loaded onto another train for the remainder of the trip.

    The cost was $27 one way – which at the time was significantly more than the cost of gasoline [@$4/gal] for the same trip by car – and which would allow a traveler to leave whenever s/he wanted, stop for lunch, or take a detour at any time – and have a car when they arrived.

    High speed rail makes Alaska's Bridge to Nowhere look like the ultimate in fiscal prudence. It is a make-work scheme promoted by costly union labor in return for votes, and I would bet ten years' pay to a dime that the ridership projections will never be even one-quarter of what is promised, meaning that taxpayer subsidies will be eternal. Further, the land bought for the rail rights of way will go from property tax-paying revenue sources, to government owned non-taxpaying land.

    High speed rail is as irresponsible as someone on the verge of bankruptcy buying rounds of drinks for all the strangers in the bar. It's even worse, really, since the politicians are paying for this enormously expensive boondoggle with our tax money.

    I want to hear the promoters of high speed rail tell us again that these are our Representatives, and that they are not bought and paid for by conniving special interests.

  15. Allen:

    Speaking of wasteful trains, it looks like Phoenix is working on building another one