California’s embattled $US68-billion high speed rail project got a boost yesterday when a state court ruled that $US8 billion in bonds could be issued to fund its initial stages.
The bullet train has been politically controversial. Gov. Jerry Brown has been behind it from the get-go, but critics have argued that it will be vastly more expensive to build than estimated. They have also questioned its planned route, which would join Los Angeles and San Francisco through the state’s agricultural heartland, the Central Valley.
And no one is sure if this massive infrastructure project, which could takes decades to complete, will ultimately attract enough riders to justify its mammoth financial outlay.
Regardless of how much it costs, where it goes, or who rides it, there’s little doubt that the train will look cool and enable a trip from SoCal or NoCal in three hours, joining the state’s two most important economic regions and — it’s hoped — spur development along the rail line’s inland route.
The critical route will join L.A. and San Francisco, but an L.A.-San Diego link is also possible, as is a connection to Sacramento.
The train will rocket across the California landscape at up to 220 mph — and reduce pollution in the process.
Passengers will ride in quiet and comfort — apart from the speed, a bullet train journey won’t be all that different from what we’re already accustomed to.
The scenery will literally fly by.
Economic impact is a big reason for undertaking the project. Whole new buildings will spring up along the train’s route, to accommodate increased business activity.
And already prosperous cities will experience a leap in growth (A visualisation of San Francisco, below).
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