City Journal Winter 2014

Current Issue:

Winter 2014
Table of Contents
Tablet Editions
Click to visit City Journal California

Readers’ Comments

Cynthia Ward
High-Speed Train Wreck « Back to Story

View Comments (38)

Add New Comment:

To send your message, please enter the words you see in the distorted image below, in order and separated by a space, and click "Submit." If you cannot read the words below, please click here to receive a new challenge.

Comments will appear online. Please do not submit comments containing advertising or obscene language. Comments containing certain content, such as URLs, may not appear online until they have been reviewed by a moderator.

Showing 38 Comment(s) Subscribe by RSS
Sooooo...where is the petition??
Nice work Cynthia
ET3tm: More Reason funded lies - you guys are amazing how much you can continue to crank out and still keep a straight face.

SNCF in France is making $1.5 billion in profits each year running "money losing trains". So are all the other high speed rail operators all around the world. Wake up and smell the reality!

Name one single road project in America or anywhere else in the world that is making a profit. Name one single airport, what about a school, fire department, police department... none of them are making money, so I guess we should shut them all down. AND I guess we better shut down the military as well because that's losing trillions!

Get a life and stop spreading Reason/Cato/Heritage/Koch lies... it will come back to haunt you more than you can imagine! You'll be sitting stuck in an LA traffic jam from hell while everyone else will be zooming along on high speed rail!
There are no HSR trains in the world that have recovered even one penny of the huge construction cost of the tracks, and the $70,000.00 PER SEAT cost of the trains. Only one HSR system in the world (Japan) recovers it's operating cost alone. The reason Japan is able to recover HSR operating cost is that they punish car owners with more than a 100% tax on cars and gasoline, and they pack people into the trains like sardines in a tin. Car use in Japan continues to displace train travel, more than 60% of Japan uses cars in spite of the huge tax.

Evacuated Tube Transport Technologies (ET3) tm can be built for less than a tenth the cost of HSR, and ET3 can accomplish 50 times more transportation per kWh of electrical energy than an electric car or train.
NONIMBYS must be one of those SEIU thugs counting on more government largesse. Were you typing this at happy hour, because it is almost unintelligible? Are you the union boss eating on the working man's dime? August 11, 2011 at 3:16 AM
Your stupid webpropagande site is on East Coast time..lame brain in Socal..OO thats right its A PAID FOR SITE BY TEABAGGER REBUPS..
But Cynthia.... if you insist leaving your snail trail on the Internet I will do this wither your white Disneyland brain likes it or not, is that clear woman??your an ahole has been living in Orange County ..that your type invaded..stop acting such a just pig
Ah, "nonimbys" so glad to see you found us here. Always a joy to hear your special brand of activism.I hadn't heard from you lately, was afraid perhaps I was doing it wrong. You have a lovely day, sir.
And Cynthia tell that bagging reason foundation for all called Florenz.. and he's mockingn in his name a Mexican-American that has done a lot for the Valley that Tolling sponsor by the Reason Foundation and other oil back white is right propaganda think tanks should be exposed don't you agree??? AS a real Americans standing up for the Constitution and the Bible??
Any more propaganda... you silly little tea bagging "RED" Cynthia... you are pathetic and everything you represent is pathetic, now go and eat a burrito there in Anaheim and make sure the illegal aliens that you hate make it right and scream at them when you drive down a Spanish name Street
All other facts aside, the one true fact that really matters is this. No one, at any level of government in California is capable of organizing a happy hour let along a project of this scope. Secondarily when you arrive at your destination in LA or SD you will still most likely be 10,20 or 30 miles from where you really need to be and no way to get there other than a $100 cab ride.

Mike, thanks for the input, oddly enough high speed rail is a combination of my two great loves- the romance of rail and the adrenaline of speed- and I would love to go check out these other systems. Frankly writers do not earn enough for European vacations, so I am unlikely to ever experience that thrill of being a passenger. I guess my point is that California's system is not being designed like those European systems, and therefore cannot run the way they do. As you pointed out, these other systems run straight routes, through open terrain, dipping briefly into population centers, often by way of tunnel, and then out again as quickly as possible to get into open territory again. California's system insists on using a route chosen more for political expediency than speed, with odd curves, slowing for runs through densely populated urban environments, and little regard for that straight, unbroken line needed for top speeds. When we proposed tunnels to avoid disruption of population centers, we were told they are too expensive. Instead they want to share tracks with other slower passenger rail and in some cases even FREIGHT rail, which is pure insanity. Advocates keep comparing our system and its potential speeds to others in the world, but ours is not following those examples. And frankly the examples presented for those faster models are top speeds, not average speeds, which is what I was citing when quoting Vranich. So far these folks at the Authority have spent half a billion dollars studying and designing something that does not work, even by their own definitions. The Feds are not going to pump more monopoly money into it, we do not have it as a State, and foreign and domestic investors are not going to touch this without a revenue guarantee, which is illegal under AB3034. The reality is that this went to the voters in 2008 without the Business Plan that was ordered, voters were sold a pig in a poke, which may well invalidate Prop 1A if someone gets the guts (and financial resources) to challenge it. Vranich warned us before this went to a ballot that these issues would come to the surface, and to date they all have.
Not all high speed rail systems run at top speeds the entire runs. The French TGV in many places slows down in areas where there are constraints, but speed up on open stretches - for example when taking the TVG from Paris to Nice, it starts out slow for the first half hour as it pulls out of Paris and passes thru the suburbs, then hits top speed (186-200mph) for several hours to arrive in Lyon. Then full speed again to Avignon and beyond, then slows and cruises along at around 100mph along the coast to Nice, and then slows to about 60mph along several beach towns to stop at Monaco.

The point is its not true high speed the entire way, and they are upgrading some of the tracks now where it is not to increase speeds, but the real point is you can stay on the same train the entire trip, no transfers needed.

In Spain, which is a much newer system, those trains only take 5 minutes out of Madrid and are already hitting 200mph and don't let up for an hour or more to the first stop. Then 5 minutes later are right back up to full speed again for another hour or more. Spain terrain is exactly like California's, with mountains, cities, etc. The high speed lines are laid out in relatively straight lines and go right through mountains, so they are not slowed by the terrain or the cities, as they go into tunnels when they get near large cities and still zoom along at full speed right up to the stop. This is very advanced rail, not Amtrak we are talking about.

Please go to Spain, France, and Japan before writing any more articles on high speed rail so you can see for yourself how great these systems are, how fast, and how many millions of people are riding them. Getting your information from the Reasn Foundation, Cato, or Heritage, or Joseph Vranich just makes you and your article very questionable and unreliable, and will damage your reputation.
I beg to differ, but at least on the LOSSAN track they are proposing shared track, which will be required to slow to a crawl as it runs through the middle of Anaheim, Fullerton, Buena Park, etc. As I said, that line from Anaheim to Los Angeles only beats current Metrolink times by 20 minutes. HSR will not get dedicated tracks for the entire run, it can't, not through population centers. And the minute you share track you get into a whole new ballgame with speeds.
Interesting. So Vranich and others are saying the FRA requires HSR to slow in population centers. Okay:

That's America's one, medium-high-speed train, Acela, doing 150mph (top speed) on an express run through a population center called Kingston, Rhode Island. Can someone show me the Federal regulation that requires 200 mph HSR trains to slow to 150 in population centers?

Of course, California HSR trains will go 190 to 200+ since the plan is to run them on dedicated tracks with standard HSR signaling--which makes them exempt from Federal Regs on weight and buffing (the ones Vranich said, incorrectly, would restrict speeds). Here's an article that explain what Joe Vranich's testimony was really all about:

NIMBY's, of course, are easily manipulated and used by the Reason Foundation and form easy alliances. Of course, Reason will turn around and support building a freeway or a gas refinery right through your house, so beware.

Anyway, 173.6 mph--that's the average speed for the TGV on its longest runs (not top speed, average speed). Cynthia, look, Joe Vranich is a shill for AEI and Reason, which are both supported in large part by oil companies--they have a very real incentive to dis rail. His testimony before Lowenthal's panel was nonsense. He's a complete poser. He knows just enough about rail to sound authoritative. His comments about FRA regs and HSR are just wrong. Christensen is right: Vranich MAKES STUFF UP. HSR, of the TGV/Shinkansen type they're proposing for California, don't run on the same tracks and have advanced signaling which makes them exempt from FRA buffing and weight standards. The FRA and DOT, by the way, are totally behind California's project (that's where much of the Federal matching funds are coming from). However, they can still slow and run on Amtrak lines as long as they are behind an FRA-compliant locomotive, as is done with the Talgo trainset in the Pacific Northwest. Express TGVs blow right through and past population centers at speed as does the Shinkansen and TGV and ICE. Curves? Huh? You don't design TGV-style equipment with curves that requires significant slowing. That's the whole point. What curves you have are banked to permit higher speeds by compensating for centrifugal force.

What you need to do is formulate opinions based on facts, not pick and chose facts (some real, some misunderstood, some imaginary) to bolster the opinion you've already chosen. There are high speed trains running all over the world over identical distances, through very similar population densities, and nearly identical terrain. HSR supporters are not advocating for a trip to the moon here...this is off-the-shelf tech. Your argument is that this successful transportation system works everywhere but for some reason can't possibly work here. The supporters already got Prop. 1A approved (and the arguments for and against are unchanged--the rebuttals and debate on Prop. 1A were robust and complete). The anti-side simply failed to convince the voters. You want to call the voters naive or stupid. You want to say the TGV works in France but won't work here. The burden of proof is on you. And despite the Reason Foundation- funded anti-HSR campaign, I've yet to see any hard, confirmed facts that even come close to achieving that. Some made up nonsense here or there, yes. Some honest misunderstanding by people who are constrained by one-note ideologies, sure. NIMBYs desperately clutching anything to find an argument for not losing their land, understandable. NIMBYs trying to leverage bucks out of the project by claiming damage that isn't real, sad, but it happens on every big project. But actual, confirmed information? No, not at all.
Florez's claim that Spain's high speed rail system is underutilized is a complete lie. And that them building this is what caused the stock market to crash!!!!!! What a load of nonsense! What is your opinion about the train ridership in Spain based on, staring at the stars? Random opinion? Have you even been to Spain? I was just there and most trains are sold out and lines of people buying tickets and the trains are rolling in and out with huge crowds on them constantly. Renfe is making billions of dollars in profit running the trains, and they are getting enormous ridership, and have taken more than 50% of the marketshare from the airlines in every corridor they operate, and some corridors are much higher than that. Random opinions are worthless, and not of any value to anyone. Go to Spain and see for yourself what an amazing and successful system this is.

France's SNCF made more than $1.5 billion in net profit last year running high speed trains. DB in Germany is making billions of dollars in profit. Japan Rail Central is also making billions of dollars in profit every year. Go out and get some real facts for a change and stop throwing around random opinions!

Your arguement about the number of stops also makes no sense. There will be express trains that make few stops and local trains that make more stops, just like how these systems work all over the world. The super successful Eurostar operates trains between London and Paris that get there in 2 hours and 15 minutes. Those are the express trains. There are other trains that make 2 stops and others that make 3-4 stops. Each stop only adds 5 minutes to the overall trip time. Instead of your random worthless opinion on this, you can go to the Eurostar website and see the time tables. So in California, there will be express trains between San Fran and LA, and other trains that make additional stops. The schedules will be designed around the demand and are very flexible and can change throughout the day, week, and season to meet the demands of the riders.

Your safety comparison to China is also unfounded as well. Japan has high speed trains running every 5-6 minutes traveling at 186mph+ and have never had a death from an accident in 46 years. There is no more precise, close operating high speed train system in the world than that. France has carried more than 2 billion people without a single death in 30 years of high speed operations. These systems are the safest form of transportation possible. You should be attacking the auto/highway system if you are really concerned about safety. In the 46 years of Japan's high speed train operation carrying over 9 billion people without a single death, over 2 million people have been killed in car accidents in the USA! And tens of millions more have been cripled in car accidents in the US during that time. So don't try to claim high speed rail is unsafe.

California won't be able to double the highway system or build 5 new airports over the next 20 years to meet the mobility demands of its growing population. And even if it could, the cost to do so would be many hundreds of billions of dollars. The statewide high speed rail system is a huge bargain compared to what would have to be built if the train was not. And the train system will actually move the people quickly and efficiently, while doubling the highway system would do nothing but enlarge the massive congestion of today and people would still be stuck going nowhere fast. High speed rail delivers real mobility at a far lower price than any other mode of transport.
Wilfrid, thanks for writing. Even if you plan to run an express line with no stops there is still considerable slowing for curves to avoid population centers or terrain impediments, and even more slowing for running this thing through population centers. That is why it makes no sense to use the routes chosen, they not only destroy entire neighborhoods and business areas, the trains are forced, by Federal Law, to slow to a crawl that can be met by Amtrak or commuter services. The LOSSAN corridor that bisects my beloved Anaheim Colony Historic District is entirely restricted from start to finish, so the trip from Anaheim to Los Angeles is only 20 minutes shorter than current Amtrak-Metrolink services, for billions of dollars spent, and entire communities impacted. This makes no sense to me. However, I am new to transportation, only having been involved since 2009, and I enjoy learning from those who know more than I do. Can you share examples of hitting those reported top speeds including curves and population centers? If so I will gladly ask my editor to update the article. Again, thanks for your input.
I cannot remember if the 2009 business plan had a sample timetable for Anaheim, but for San Francisco to Los Angeles, there was one non-stop express train each hour each way. So for the express trains---no subtraction for time spent in intermediate stations.

Concerning fatal high-speed rail accidents---As far as I know there have been Three---In China, in Germany, and in Turkey. Japan has not had a fatality in 47 years, France has not had a fatal accident in over 30 years. Even the Reason Foundation gives high speed rail grudging credit for being a safe way to travel.
Wilfrid, common sense requires that you need to compare how many stops are planned for the same distance. Based on the number of planned CAHSR stops, and the time it takes to stop the train, load/unload passengers, it works out to an average speed of 197 mph. That, my friend, is impossible and hasn't been done yet. But, perhaps you would have us follow the Chinese HSR model - that Governor Schwarzenegger, CA Democratic politicians and CAHSRA has been touting for the past two years, and try to push the envelope on speed and quick construction, so we end up slamming CAHSR trains into each other at 186 mph, as done in China on 7/23/2011. Great, let's follow that Chinese High Speed Rail Disaster model.
I have already pointed out the factual errors made by Cynthia Ward in this article. ---The California High Speed Rail Authority has estimated travel time from SF to Anaheim to be 2 hr- 57 min, not 2 hr-40 min, and has estimated the average speed for this trip to be 157 mph, not 197 mph.

Now let us see how this corrected average speed of 157 mph compares with existing high speed rail routes.

Shanghai-Beijing---819 miles---170 mph.
Madrid-Barcelona---386 miles---147 mph.
Taipei-Kaohsiung---214 miles---143 mph.
Tokyo-Osaka---322 miles---133 mph.
Paris-Lyon---253 miles---133 mph.

Looks to me like an average speed of 157 mph is not unreasonable, and if Vranich wants to do any debunking he should start with himself.
This video from October 2008 from Joseph Vrancih (former CEO of the US HSR Association which promotes High Speed Rail in the US, and co-author of the CAHSRA “Due Dilligence Report” – i.e he’s one of the fathers of HSR in California) . His testimony before the CA Senate Transportation Committee, given shortly before the November 2008 vote on HSR’s ballot, shows that the current business plan, projected ridership and construction cost estimates, ticket estimates, time for travel between SF and LA, ALL TO BE FANTASY, made up, fabricated, pulled out of thin, and predicts that the project is instead based on “science fiction” and will be the greatest boondoggle and waste of taxpayer dollars in CA history. Vranich strongly supports HSR in the US, an advocate for 40 years, and has reviewed countless HSR plans over 40 years, so he knows what he is talking about! His testimony is given in order to warn CA Legislature of the boondoggle that is coming – and warn that the current business plan (ridership projections, ticket prices, construction costs, travel times) simply “cannot be believed”. And, remember that after CA voters narrowly approved this boondoggle by 52 to 48%, the California Court of Appeal ruled that the ballot materials and description provided to CA voters was illegal and fraudulent. In short, California voters were defrauded, snookered, and illegally led to approve a “science fiction” HSR concept that will never be able to pencil out without costing California taxpayers $20 billion in bonds from the General Fund and yearly operating subsidies of $1 billion per year. California, you’ve been defrauded, and now you need to contact Governor Brown, Democrats in CA’s legislature, and tell them unequivocally to stop the boondoggle before billions of necessary General Fund taxpayer dollars (to save teachers jobs, UC/CSU tuition) are wasted in the Central Valley – and no extension of taxes until the HSR boondoggle is killed (Brown’s union cronies will have to look somewhere else for “free” billions in federal money being given to friendly HSR consultants, or land speculators):
Yesterday's 500 point drop in the stock market was caused, in large part, by countries like Spain spending hundreds of billions of dollars (they don't really have available) on useless High Speed Trains (construction cost overruns, inflated ridership projections, etc.) that are ending up very underutilized, requiring heavy, heavy, Spanish government subsidies to continue operating, all of which is brining Spain to the bankruptcy, shocking the world markets, and your US stock market as well. And now the California Democrats in Sacramento, and Obama in Washington, want to bring the US down the bankruptcy hole as well - via empty US/CA high speed trains to nowhere. Great.

The State Of The Union – Following Spain Down The Financial Ruin Drain Via High Speed Rail Service
Posted in category: News at: May 11, 2011 by admin - SPAIN, A BANKRUPT COUNTRY WITH SNAZZY HIGH SPEED TRAINS

It seems that one of the overriding priorities and fixations of this administration and some in Congress is to implement high-speed rail lines throughout this country. It came up again in the latest state of the union speech and the Democrats in Congress have already allocated taxpayer funds to several high speed rail projects around the country. Included in these projects is a high-speed rail line from Tampa To Orlando but more on that a little later.

Given this fixation, consider an article that appeared in the January 18, 2011 issue of The Week magazine. The article summarizes a piece in El Pais, a Spanish publication, that was written by Cristina Vazquez and was titled, “A Bankrupt Country With Snazzy Trains.” Remember, that Spain is one of those European countries, like Greece, that is rapidly approaching a financial collapse and sovereign bankruptcy because of their heavy government debt. Information in the article included the following:

According to Ms. Vazquez, “over the past few years, we’ve (Spain) spent unprecedented sums on transport improvements. Spain now has the most miles of highways than any other European country.”

With the recent opening of the Madrid-Valencia high speed train service, Spain ousted France as the holder of Europe’s largest high speed rail network.

However, at the expense of six billion Euros, this high speed line will carry only 3.5 million passengers a year, or less than 10,000 people a day and serve only those that need to get between these two cities. However, 400 million people commute to work on commuter rails every year in Spain or more than 1.1 million a day. Thus, the billions of Euros spent will serve less than 1% of Spain’s rail users.
So sad. Will people ever learn? Millions, billions of taxpayer dollars tossed away, no one responsible. As a society how can we allow this to continue?

The whole story is sickening - I've always wondered if the high speed rail nonsense is a sop to General Electric. I can't conceive of any other reason why something as insane as this has been suggested - with safe and easy air travel high speed rail is, as once described to me - the transportation system of the future - and it always will be. Here in New Jersey we have "light rail" that cost the taxpayers billions and isn't used by many, and bleeds money - a perfect example of boondoggle.

It is unfortunate, but it appears that as a society we no longer have the ability to do great things. The money to do so is spent, and the regulatory barriers too formidable, and the expertise is gone. More important, we no longer have the wisdom to do such things without...well...screwing it up. The national highway system, early NASA achievements, our aviation system, all of it constructed by our ancestors. We are like the post Roman world looking in wonder at the monuments, and knowing that we no longer have the ability to create such beautiful structures. Or to even plan on what to build. We have a corruption as a society, brought on by what I do not know - maybe a lack of unity or a lack of national character.

Or maybe it is just California, the Democrats success at driving the best out of the State is all too evident. What is left is certainly inept and incompetent.
I have to agree with the article that the high speed rail here appears to be a waste of money. Is there any regular rail between Sacramento and California? They might be better off by buying the right of way, and building a road for high speed bus, or light rail.
There are stops for trains, so it is not distance only you have to calculate.

However the Shinkansen (bullet train) does go faster, but the city densities and rail feeder systems are unlike anything we have here. Having spent lots if time in Japan, Europe and China on trains, comparing any of their systems to one here isn't valid. This train system is a solution looking for a problem.
Time for a fact check---The distance from Anaheim to San Francisco according to the CaHSRA Route Map is 465 miles, the estimated travel time is 2hr-57min---This calculates out to an average speed of 157mph not 197mph. A difference of 40 mph in average travel time is a big one. Your article is based upon a substantial factual error and in the interest of good journalism this error should be corrected immediately.
"noting that the required average speed of 197 miles per hour is a feat yet to be accomplished anywhere in the world." You are joking right? This comment comes from Tokyo where the average speeds are 186mph for "bullet trains". The train from Osaka to Tokyo CAN run at 199mph but is still dealing with noise pollution issues. Also China runs at 217mph on some trains. We did see what happens with bad safety issues in China. But it is far from "a feat yet to be accomplished". It HAS been and will be accomplished. Shanghai Maglev Train operates at 268mph.

Ironic that someone claiming the facts are lies, makes a statement that is flat out a lie. Get YOUR facts straight before you start throwing stones.
Excellent writing and article. I suppose what I consider as someone in both construction/engineering and in High Speed Rail ( I have a Train Blog is that this effort will put many people to work and help build a better transportation wheel. A solid transportation system will include quality bridges, highways, well constructed terminals and transportation hubs, bus networks, and energy efficient trains for both freight and passengers. California needs something better and I am really convinced high speed trains and rails are better. Expensive and certainly not easy to build - but better than the alternatives.
Joseph Vranich has no involvement with the U.S. High Speed Rail Association, and has never had any involvement with this association. This is not at all true.

Also, high speed trains run at 220 mph around the world, and a recent speed record was broken by a standard French train hitting 357mph.
Yes, Blodgett you are correct. For the past year the new Airbus A380 started servicing Airports around the US. If configured for only Economy seating, this A380 can hold upwards of 800 passengers. With First and Business, as currently configured, it seats about 540. Soon the Boeing 787 planes will be arriving, and they will have less carbon output, better fuel efficiency, and more seating. Hey, instead of wasting $200 plus billion on California's Train to Nowhere, how about spending a fraction of those billions on fixing Regional Transportation in all sectors of CA - LA, SF, SD and Sacramento - like bring BART around the SF Bay to all 9 Counties (Napa, Solano, Sonoma, etc) and up 101 to Santa Rosa - let's actually do something to end the bottlenecks on Hwys 101/280/580/680/880, reduce GHG, give people an option to seamlessly get around the SF Bay - and allow SD, LA, Sacto to fix their regional needs also. HSR, if you ever rode it in France, is the icing on the cake that feeds and connects "already well established" Regional transportation hubs - like Paris' underground Metro - but in the US there is no cake, we don't have well established Regional transportation. Fix that first, then see if the icing is really necessary (i.e. on top of the already cheap Virgin, Jet Blue, Southwest, UAL, Alaska, etc. SF to LA flights currently existing for $65).
Perhaps Mr Vranich can make another appeal to stop this before it's too late. This time in the public eye as well as the Senate.
What almost always gets lost in these discussions is that California already has a functional and private high speed transportation system in the form of, yes, jet airlines. (You can fly today from SF to SD in about 90 minutes.) Further, there don't appear to be major airport capacity problems that can't be solved by flying large jets (e.g., 777's) instead of the medium jets (737's, A320's) used mostly now. Let's let this fiasco go and use the tens of billions saved instead to solve California's incredible high unemployment.

California has massive problems with it
Thomas J Umberg, the chairman of the state of California High Speed Rail Authority recently claimed in the Wall Street Journal that the proposed LA-San Francisco HSR line could cover its costs "just as every high-speed rail system around the world does." (WSJ 2011-06-06)

But, that flies in the face of multiple sources of evidence:

"In May of 2009 Iñaki Barrón de Angoiti, director of high-speed rail at the International Union of Railways, said, 'Only two routes in the world—between Tokyo and Osaka, and between Paris and Lyon—have broken even.'

"In December 2009 the U.S. Congressional Research Service said: 'Typically, governments have paid the construction costs, and in many cases have subsidized the operating costs as well.'

"In July 2010 a World Bank report cautioned that governments planning high-speed rail systems 'should also contemplate the near-certainty of copious and continuing budget support for the debt.'

"In May 2011 the AFL-CIO's Transportation Trades Department, said: 'There is no high-speed passenger rail system in the world that operates without significant government assistance…'

"Mr. Umberg might ask the authority's staff why the latest (2009) Business Plan asked for a 'revenue guarantee' (aka subsidy) five times."

Umberg is a lawyer - and described by his firm as a "Super Lawyer" and selected as one of "The Best Lawyers in America." It is obviously a profession with a sense of humor.
On June 15, 2011, the United State House of Representatives Budget Committee awarded the coveted “Budget Boondoggle of the Year Award” to California’s “Train to Nowhere” due to the huge multi-billion dollar cost, inadequate ridership projections, insufficient funding, requirements for operating subsidies, fiscal infeasibility, inability to find any private investors or federal funding, the fact that no high speed rail lines in the world make a profit and require ongoing operating subsidieis, that the Central Valley segment in California will be non-operational with no trains, electrification for $6.9 billion. Way to go California taxpayers! Really, you can’t make up this kind of crap. Sad but true. See Award here:
The anti-high-speed rail folks think all the argument they need is to should "boondoggle!" at he top of their voices.

If your position is wrong, folks, finding one person to agree with you whose "credentials" consist of having had a book published does not mean you're suddenly right.

Here's a simple, easy-to-understand FACT: high-speed rail has been the preferred mode of transportation throughout Europe for the past 30 years. And, for environmental and societal reasons, high-speed rail is being built as fast as possible almost everywhere in the world. Except, of course, in the U.S., where we think we're so much smarter than everyone else. And THAT, Ms. Ward, is what's really sad!
It's tough to watch a state give itself a financial enema. Tougher still when they seem to enjoy it over and over again. But that seems to be "the California way" these days. Wonder why.
And, see the 5/25/2011 California Subcommittee Hearing on Transportation, and the Assemblyman from Hanford, CA (i.e. Central Valley) complaining to CAHSR CEO Van Ark about this constituent farmers being "thrown out" of "public" CAHSR meetings, about PR where CAHSR shows up to give information about which route CAHSR has chosen to go through their farmlands (upwards of 1500 acres of prime agricultural land) without an "open microphone", so there is no public input, and how CAHSR is not listening to farmers who are worried about the overall cost to taxpayers of California, and that the train won't be built after their water wells, farmland, houses, and way of life are destroyed forever – and public comment from 6/2/11 where farmland owners are complaining about CAHSR ignoring their comments/concerns/lives:
Hey, Cynthia Ward, when you find $200,000,000,000.00 ($200 Billion) of your own money, and not taxpayer money, to invest in this stinker of a project, go for it. Until then, stop the "Train to Nowhere" boondoggle before the black hole money pit is opened like a scar across the face of California's Central Valley. And, oh by the way, this person named "California State Treasurer Bill Lockyer" is a Democrat - before you gripe about Republicans or Tea Partiers:

California Treasurer Bill Lockyer, the California politician responsible for selling these CAHSR bonds, said on March 14, 2011 to an LA news reporter that no one is interested in buying CA HSR bonds because the CAHSR is more interested in issuing bad PR, rather than coming up with a sound business plan. Until there is a sound business plan, or even a half-baked one, then no one will invest in this stinker of a project. Interviewer asks: “so are investors saying we’re interested, but it doesn’t look like you guys [CAHSR Authority] know what you’re doing” & Lockyer responds: “that’s what they’re saying”; Interviewer: “what do you think?” & Lockyer responds: “well, I think the same thing.” Lockyer also says “we don’t have a [business] plan that makes sense” and “I don’t think the State of California can sell these bonds”, and even though voters authorized the bonds, the bonds don’t need to be sold and the project can be cancelled in 2011 or 2012. - see interview here: