California Halts High-Speed Train — Ride These Fast Trains Instead

California’s bullet train system is on hiatus until further
notice.

In his first State of the State address Tuesday, California’s
new governor, Gavin Newsom, scaled
back plans
 for the Golden State’s high-speed rail project,
saying that construction was costing far too much due to issues
along the way.

“Let’s level about the high-speed rail,” Newsom
told assembly members
. “Let’s be real, the current project
as planned would cost too much and, respectfully, take too long.
There’s been too little oversight and not enough
transparency.”

According to original plans, the California high-speed rail
would have connected Los Angeles and San Francisco with an 800-mile
line. Instead, the newly-elected Newsom plans to complete a 120- to
160-mile stretch of train track already under construction in the
state’s Central Valley region between Bakersfield and
Merced.

When voters approved plans for the 800-mile bullet train system
in 2008, the budget estimated that the project would be
complete in 2029 at a cost of $32 billion
. An initial $10
billion bond was issued to fund construction. In the midst of the
financial crisis of the time, Californians were intrigued by the
prospect of high-paying jobs from the project, as well as a speedy,
low-cost way to travel between Los Angeles and the San Francisco
Bay Area in under three hours.

But legal, environmental and political setbacks have caused
costs to soar to at least double the original price tag, with 2018
estimates from the California High Speed Rail Authority pegging final
costs at $77 billion
. Even the initial stretch, located in the
relatively flat, agriculture-heavy Central Valley and estimated to
cost S6.4 billion, will cost $10 billion to finish out.

Newsom made it clear that a completed high speed rail system
would still be in California’s future — in days yet to
come. “Abandoning the high-speed rail entirely means we will
have wasted billions and billions of dollars with nothing but
broken promises… and lawsuits to show for it,” Newsom said. But
he made it clear that the Central Valley segment will receive top
priority first. “Let’s get something done once and for all,”
he said.

California isn’t the only state to have flirted with the idea
of a high-speed, low-cost commute: Texas has been
talking about one for years now
. And Elon Musk has been working
on a
hyperloop concept for some time
now — not strictly a train in
the traditional sense, though. But if you were looking forward to
speeding from the Bay to Hollywood in two hours and 40 minutes
flat, you’ll have to postpone those plans for a good long while.
If you’re in the mood to travel up to 220 miles an hour on land,
plenty of global destinations will help with your high-speed fix
right now. 

Japan remains the golden standard of high-speed rail for its
network of Shinkansen bullet
trains
, which brought high-speed to the world in the 1960s. The
Japanese rail system can be notoriously complex, however, so make
sure you
plan ahead beforehand
. Taiwan’s
217-mile HSR system
 is modeled after Japan’s Shinkansen in
several ways, linking eight regions of the island along the western
corridor through beautiful countryside scenery and industrial
cityscapes. And China, despite being a latecomer to the
bullet-train game, boasted the world’s largest high-speed rail
network by the end of 2018, with a
whopping 18,000 miles of track
 accounting for approximately
two-thirds of the world’s total. Not content to settle for one
superlative, China has also held the top two slots in the “world’s
fastest train” rankings
for several years now, with the
Shanghai Maglev topping out at a maximum operating speed of 267.8
mph. 

Meanwhile, many parts of Europe have laid a beautiful track
infrastructure connecting most regions of the continent that

makes rail travel far easier than air travel
for several types
of travelers. Last year, SmarterTravel listed 10
train routes across Europe that were faster than flying
,
including between London and Paris, Florence and Naples, and Madrid
and Valencia. 

And coming back closer to home, Amtrak is making an effort to
bring regular trains up to speed, although they still won’t touch
China’s Maglev. They’ll be closer to Taiwan’s THSR 700T,
which tops out at 186.4 mph. Most of the US’s trains
still run on 40-year-old technology
, but Amtrak is launching a
new, upgraded line of Acela Express trains set
to hit tracks by 2021.
 At top speed, the Acela Express can go
up to 186 mph, but will usually operate at
speeds up to 160 mph in the Northeast Corridor
 connecting
Washington DC, Philadelphia, New York City and Boston.

Featured photo by California High-Speed Rail Authority via Getty
Images, depicting construction of the Muscat Avenue Viaduct west of
State Route 99.

Source: FS – All-Travel destinations-News2
California Halts High-Speed Train — Ride These Fast Trains Instead