High Speed Rail

Surprise! California's High Speed Rail Breaks Major Promise in New Plan

New route ditches Los Angeles for the Bay Area and potentially violates state law.


Leaked documents show that the California high speed rail is reversing course—quite literally—and changing construction plans on the first 250-mile stretch of track. The new plan will now connect the Central Valley to the Bay Area—not Los Angeles as originally planned. 

The San Jose Mercury News got their hands on a draft report detailing the route change: 

"In the draft report obtained Wednesday by this newspaper, the authority says it had to change course to keep costs down, in large part because the southern segment will entail expensive tunneling costs through the Tehachapi and San Gabriel mountains. 

Getting even a significant portion of the project built early—by 2025—would help its political survival. And, as the report notes, the Silicon Valley-to-Central Valley line will better position the state to attract private investors, whom Gov. Jerry Brown and supporters of the project hope will pay for part of the cost…"

News of the route change comes in the same week consultants projected a $260 million increase in additional costs for the first 22-mile leg of construction—which amounts to a five percent increase in price for a project that has yet to lay a single foot of track. 

The proposed change may also violate state law. 

California Assemblyman David Hadley (R-South Bay) told local radio station KFI 640 AM that the new route potentially goes against a provision in the high speed rail legislation that says the train must first connect to Los Angeles. He stated the language was added to ensure Southern Californians didn't foot the bill for a train that could very well end up becoming a regional transportation project. 

Hadley is introducing legislation next week that would take a portion of funds away from the high speed rail project based on the new plans to build north. 

The route change is only the latest in a line of broken promises made by the California rail authority. Voters approved the project with a $33 billion price tag—that has since doubled to $68 billion and could go even higher. Construction is already over two years behind schedule and the state has still not disclosed how they plan to raise the $53 billion in additional funds to complete the Los Angeles-to-San Francisco track. 

The sad part is that the problems with the high speed rail project were entirely predictable. As Reason's Scott Shackford wrote last October:

"Don't blame us for this eminently predictable disaster in the making. The Reason Foundation warned all the way back in 2008 that, among other things: cost overruns were likely, state and federal funding would not be sufficient to cover the costs of the project, the state would have to spend more money, and private investors would not be making up the difference. And that's exactly what is happening. Read more of those predictions here."

And while the boondoggle continues to move forward, residents in the Central Valley are getting screwed out of their property for a project that may never be completed. Reason TV recently visited with those who are being affected by the project. You can hear their stories in the video below:

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  1. Who cares which cities it connects? It’s high-speed rail!! That’s all that counts.

    1. Looks more European. Therefore good.

      1. I don’t hate Europe because of Europeans (sort of), but because of Americans who insist they do everything better.

        1. High speed rail means better artisanal cheese and theatre. Or so I’ve been told.

        2. Why would you hate Europe for things certain Americans say? Wouldn’t it make more sense to hate those Americans?

          1. Much easier to hate everyone.

    2. Exactly. Just think of the jobs created! And all that money spent! All the stimulus! Who cares where it comes from and where it goes, money is being spent and ground broken and teamsters hired. The nation will marvel at California’s incredible wealth machine.

      1. Let’s go in whole hog for jobs: mandate that the construction methods be no more modern than those used to build the Central Pacific Railroad in 1869 – picks, shovels and black powder. But no Chinese coolie imports, of course.

    3. It’s cronyism central. That’s what counts to the people in charge.

      1. Cronyism Central Station Epi. Don’t you know anything about trains?

        1. Apparently not. They’re the ones that go on water, right?

          1. No, it’s what we pull on your mom.

            1. Mac: Charlie, I hate to break this to you, man, but based on the story you just told me, I think your mother was a prostitute.

              Charlie: What, come on man!

              Mac: I’m just saying–based on that story you just told me–I’m fairly certain those Santas were running a train on your mom for money.

              1. I’ve never been able to figure out what pulling a train means. Is it anything like an Armenian Conveyor Belt?

    4. Zachry.

      It doesn’t matter where it starts nor where it ends nor how much it costs.

      All that matters is that Cali has HI-SPEED RAIL and that’s super coo, just like China !!11!!11.


    5. Can we start calling it “The train to nowhere” yet?

      1. Are you suggesting that the central valley is nowhere?

        1. Im suggesting San Francisco is nowhere.

  2. it’s nice that californians are paying people to argue over how much of their money to steal

    1. We all do that. It’s called government.

      1. I thought government was about all the things that we choose to do together.

        That’s what i keep hearing from the left.

  3. Nobody in Silicon Valley wants to go to Fresno.

    1. No one outside of Fresno wants to go to Fresno.

      1. Didn’t daniel-San live in Fresno?

        1. Reseda, at least in the original.

          Agreed that no one outside of Fresno, wants to go to Fresno. Still better than Stockton though.

          1. I was going to be flown out to interview to the Stockton library and parks director position. I chickened out and told them to not book the flight.

            1. Interview FOR the position. Still kicking myself for being a chicken. I could have rebuilt the entire state from there! *has delusions of grandeur*

              1. It’s been 15-20 years since I’ve been there, but Stockton’s the only place in the Central Valley that I blundered into stereotypical Rust Belt slum poverty.

                The ex wife and I were getting off of work on the coast, the car was packed, and we were headed to Kirkwood. Tule fog was insane throughout the Valley. We consequently turn off too early, and I find myself driving through the back streets of Stockton at 1 AM ish, trying to find where 88 connects. We end up at a stoplight. In the field/abandoned building next to us, are about 25 guys, standing around two fires built in two 55 gallon drums, passing bottles around, and looking at us like we were the Griswolds, lost in E. St. Louis. It looked like a movie set, it was so stereotypical, along with our blowing through the red, once we realized what was happening.

                No harm done, got to Kirkwood, slept in the parking lot for a few hours, had a great day skiing the wall and eating their nachos.

                But yeah, I’m not a fan of California’s “Inland Seaport.”

                1. Ron Swanson would not have chickened out.

  4. “the Silicon Valley-to-Central Valley line will better position the state to attract private investors,”

    So the negative number isn’t quite as large?
    Ha and ha! This will never attract private investment; at best moonbeam can offer some ‘guaranteed’ return at taxpayer expense, or perhaps extort money from businesses seeking some licensing.

    1. The hilarious part is that they actually have the gall to say this will bring down the cost from 68 billion to 63 billion. I would put the over/under on this bullshit project at 120 billion. I would take the over.

      1. Take the over.

        I remember when they proposed the numbers for the Big Dig in Boston, which remains the most expensive highway project in the US. Check out these numbers-

        Big Dig

        The project was originally scheduled to be completed in 1998[5] at an estimated cost of $2.8 billion (in 1982 dollars, US$6.0 billion adjusted for inflation as of 2006).[6] However, the project was completed only in December 2007, at a cost of over $14.6 billion ($8.08 billion in 1982 dollars, meaning a cost overrun of about 190%)[6] as of 2006.[7] The Boston Globe estimated that the project will ultimately cost $22 billion, including interest, and that it will not be paid off until 2038.[8] As a result of the death, leaks, and other design flaws, the consortium that oversaw the project agreed to pay $407 million in restitution, and several smaller companies agreed to pay a combined sum of approximately $51 million.[9]

        1. What percentage was pure graft, I wonder?

          1. A union construction job in Boston? Graft? Surely you jest.

        2. It will never be paid off.

          The interest just grows and grows like government employee pensions.

  5. More:
    “The proposed change may also violate state law.”
    It already has; it wasn’t supposed to begin any construction absent ‘private investment’

    “Voters approved the project with a $33 billion price tag?that has since doubled to $68 billion and could go even higher.”
    I realize you’re trying to be impartial, but you misspelled “certainly will” as “could”.

    1. It feels like True Detective Season 2 is a docu-drama.

        1. Yeah, those were some bad casting decisions.

    2. It also will violate the ballot initiative which promised 2:20 (or 2:40?) between LA and SF.

      I remember some initial estimate that it could pay for itself operationally with 98M passengers (figures not remembered precisely), and laughed — that’s 250K passengers a day. If you have 1000 passengers per train, that’s 250 trains a day, 10 per hour, one every 6 minutes — if they are evenly distributed around the clock. Since most such passengers would really be commuters, it just got funnier and funnier. You’re going to have trains running 250 mph one minute apart? How fast do you think these things can stop if they get word the one ahead has stopped, and how long will it take just for the safety systems to realize a train has stopped and signal the following one?

      Keerist, BART couldn’t run trains closer than five minutes even with computer control at a time when the Tokyo Ginzasen was running trains every minute or two with manual controls designed in 1923 or so.

  6. Frisco and Silicon Valley can have it. LA is already going to have to deal with the welfare-queen boondoggle called the NFL.

    1. We don’t want it! You take it back!

    2. But how will all those train riders get to the stadium?

    3. Only losers call The City “Frisco”.

      1. I call it that just to piss off the Friscoites.

  7. It would literally be cheaper (probably by an order of magnitude, when it’s all said and done) to build lamborghinis and line them up bumper to bumper all the way from LA to San Francisco.

    1. Because I’m bored…

      Lamborghini makes several types of cars. Let’s pick the Huracan. It’s shorter than the Aventador (175.5 vs 190 inches) but costs 60% as much MSRP (237.25 k vs 397.5). LA to SF—let’s do it city hall to city hall—is 382 miles on I-5, -580, and over the Bay Bridge. (382 * 5280 * 12)/175.5 = 137,912 Huracan’s parked exactly nose to ass.

      137,912 * 237,250 USD = 32.7 ish billion USD.

      And we expect the eventual cost for this boondoggle to be what, an order of magnitude more than the initial estimate?

      Crazy, isn’t it?

      1. But think of the environmental costs! And the children.

        1. I wonder how many round trip flights from one to the other that would pay for?

          1. I’m pretty sure we could be talking charter here, not commercial.

            1. Based on commercial flight of $135, that would fund 444mm round trip flights from LA to sf .

              Holy shot this is a bad idea.

  8. “cost overruns were likely…”

    That never happens.

    Maybe they can make just a little choo choo that goes really fast from Governor Brown’s toilet to his bed and back.

    It’s still gonna cost the same though, but we got ‘er done!

  9. Artists and cultural learners for Bernie Sanders

    We ? the undersigned artists, musicians, and cultural leaders of America ? are excited to endorse a new vision for our country.

    It’s a vision that pushes for a progressive economic agenda.

    It’s a vision that creates jobs, raises wages, protects the environment, and gets big money out of politics.

    We endorse Bernie Sanders to become the 2016 Democratic Nominee for President of the

    Most surprising name on the list? George Wendt.

    Least surprising name on the list? You guessed it, Wil Wheaton.

    However, a man has to live by a code, and the code that I live by is “as goes Jeremy Piven, so goes Crusty,” so now I am firmly entrenched in the Bernie Sanders camp.

    1. Well, it’s only fair for them to reciprocate the “politicians who like artists and actors” endorsement of the Piven led sitcom Cupid in the 90s.

    2. We – the undersigned rational leader of America – are excited to tell self-appointed “cultural leaders” to stuff it.
      /s/ Sevo

    3. cultural leaders of America

      Cultural leaders? Leaders?? Go fuck yourselves.

      Oh, and the, “Paid for by Bernie 2015 (Not the Billionaires)”? Classy. Yeah, not the billionaires, just a gaggle of millionaires (probably some thousandaires in there, too, considering the names).

      1. Bernie’s a two-bit whore; no need to get paper out, unless you really want to tip.

        1. Yeah, well, unfortunately, he’s not a cheap date. Expecting obstruction for a full term for him is a bridge too far for me.

          1. Republicana can’t even obstruct with a supermajority.

          2. Like you haven’t learned from Breckin Meyer. You know you are a proud member of the Franklin and Bash fan club.

    4. I don’t see you on the list.

      1. I am neither an artist nor a cultural learner.

        1. nor a cultural learner

          I am glad you are sui generis.

    5. This time socialism will be nice to artists, you’ll see

      1. It always is… Those that conform

    6. How can George Wendt and the bass player from Phish be wrong?

      1. So many, many ways…

    7. Jesus, my love of the blues just took a hit….say it ain’t so Charlie.

    8. A new vision? They need to go easy on the LSD

  10. Private investors. I really had to laugh. People that think this would be a good investment don’t have any money.

  11. “residents in the Central Valley are getting screwed out of their property for a project that may never be completed. ”

    Wouldn’t be the first time. Bunch of people lost their property in my town for a monorail that never got built.

    1. Come on, Paul. The monorail goes from Westlake Center to the EMP! With no stops in between! Even Shelbyville has one!

      1. MONORAIL. MONORAIL !! MONORAIL !!1!!!!!!

        You can sing it.

    2. Wouldn’t be the first time.

      They do anything with that empty lot in the Kelo case yet?

    3. Emmit Domani ?

      Trump is for it.

  12. I have been estimating $200 billion for this project for several years now.

    I may be lowballing.

    1. There was a report I read a while back (2011ish) from one of CA universities (I think it was UC Berkeley because I was surprised where it came from when I read it), where the top end of their estimates were above 300 billion.

  13. that has since doubled to $68 billion and couldis certain to go even higher

  14. Sitmilus factor.

    The more the government spends the more the something somethin factor comes into play.

    All of you nay sayers fail to grasp the shovel ready jobs aspect of this worthy project.

    You’re all a bunch of LOOOsers.

    1. Multiplier, Krugnuts said it so it must be true.

  15. The new plan will now connect the Central Valley to the Bay Area?not Los Angeles as originally planned.

    I thought it was never even going to connect to LA? Only some cow-town on the other side of the mountains from LA?

  16. The law requires the impossible, but the CA High Speed Rail Authority didn’t help themselves by picking a stupid circuitous route requiring extra tunneling. I am not surprised that they did this after realizing that their dumb southern route is horrible.

    1. Well you couldn’t have those trains plowing through the rich(and liberal) neighborhoods spoiling their atmosphere. I mean only the peasants out in the valley should have to suffer.

  17. Just think non California types when this project goes all boom good old Uncle Sugar Daddy Sam will rush in with billions to save it. So those of us taxpayers a couple thousand miles away who will never use the thing will pay to keep it alive. Yippeee!

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