High Speed Rail

California Sues to Protect Its Federal Bullet Train Pork

The Trump Administration has cut off funding for the budget-busting boondoggle.


Today the state of California filed a lawsuit against the Trump administration after the feds cut off funding for California's high-speed rail project.

Neither the funding cut nor this lawsuit should come as a surprise. This doomed boondoggle is billions of dollars over budget and years (possibly even decades) behind schedule. Voters originally approved setting aside $10 billion in bond money, yet the project now exceeds $75 billion. In February, Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom acknowledged that it wasn't a realistic plan and suggested some scaling back of the longer-term prospects of the whole thing.

But not all the money was coming from the state. The Department of Transportation was providing about $3.5 billion in federal stimulus. California has spent $2.5 billion of this money. Last week, the feds announced that, due to the California High-Speed Rail Association's poor management and oversight, they were cutting off the remaining $929 million that hasn't been provided yet. And the feds may even attempt to demand back the money that California has already spent.

This, of course, is not sitting well with officials in California, and today the state filed its promised legal challenge. Newsom's office filed suit in U.S. District Court and is seeking a restraining order to keep the Transportation Department from shifting the promised money to a different purpose or project. Reuters notes that California is going to try to make it about political differences:

The state will argue that the withholding is aimed at punishing California for opposing President Donald Trump's proposed wall along the southern U.S. border. The suit also names Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao, Federal Railroad Administration (FRA)and FRA chief Ron Batory.

The problem with trying to make the narrative about Trump vs. California is that there is extensive, documented history of mistakes, excesses, and mismanagement originating from within the Golden State itself. The term "scathing audit" was tossed around to describe the state auditor's report last November detailing the bullet train's budget overruns and extensive delays. That's not an exaggerated Trump tweet, folks.

I'm not going to make any guesses about the fate of this legal fight. I will, however, point out that several Democratic presidential contenders are showing support for the Green New Deal, which encourages the development of high-speed rail routes across the country as an alternative to highways. It would not surprise me if the ultimate plan is to try to just tie this up in the courts until next year in the hopes that a friendlier president will sweep into the Oval Office and turn that federal money spigot back on.

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  1. So … +1 in Trump’s column?

    1. +2 if he manages to claw back that funding and not spend it on some other boondoggle.

  2. “several Democratic presidential contenders are showing support for the Green New Deal, which encourages the development of high-speed rail routes across the country as an alternative to highways.”

    It costs more and will move less people. Yep, that’s progress.

    1. But the most important aspect is that the ticketing process will allow complete federal government control over travel. If you are silly enough to say anything nice about a republican (if republicans are allowed to exist), your travel arrangements might keep getting continually lost.

      1. Just as in China, your social score will be used to determine whether you can travel. Unlike China, in the US, your social score will be computed by Google and Facebook. Those are “private companies”, so the”libertarians” at Reason are Ok with it.

        1. “”Just as in China, your social score will be used to determine whether you can travel. “”

          Literally part of a Black Mirror episode.

          1. Literally, what has been going on in China for a few years already.

            Black Mirror is a bit behind the times.

          2. And people don’t like it when I point out that we need to force the progs out. Elections aren’t getting it done.

    2. “It costs more…”

      For union jobs- it’s a feature, not a bug.

      and will move less people.”

      BFD. If they cared about people, they wouldn’t be Democrats.

    3. But the people it moves will be wealthy, connected Democrats, so that’s okay.

      1. Moving wealthy Democrats? Between Bakersfield and Merced?

        1. Once they have HSR, those cities will become the next Silicon Valley.

          1. Complete with poop, dilapidated million dollar homes, and poverty!

      2. Pretty sure they have private jets for that

    4. “It costs more and will move less people.”

      Using even more energy than if every passenger took a single occupancy car.

      There is squat that’s green about passenger rail.

      1. “There is squat that’s green about passenger rail.”

        Is that so? Seriously, I’m interested in the topic, so if you can point me to some sources to back that up, I would be grateful.

        1. High Speed Rail Myths

          Here are some facts about passenger trains: The average Amtrak locomotive today weighs about 150 tons. The average Amtrak passenger car weighs about 65 tons. So an Amtrak train with one locomotive and six cars weighs about 540 tons, or 1.08 million pounds. That is just for the train. That does not include one single passenger. Often these trains have two locomotives, which makes their economics much worse. But we will say just one locomotive for this example.

          If the six cars carry a total of 500 passengers at an average of 170 pounds for each passenger, the ratio of train weight to passenger weight is 13 to 1. If the train carries 1,000 passengers, the ratio is 6.5 to 1. If the train carries 250 passengers, the ratio is 26 to 1.

          The average Toyota Corolla made today weighs about 2,600 pounds or 1.30 tons. The average Ford F-150 pickup weighs almost 5,000 pounds, or 2.5 tons. So let’s say the average car in America is halfway in between at, say, 3,800 pounds.

          So if the average car carries a light load – just the driver – at an average weight of 170 pounds, the ratio of car weight to passenger weight is about 22 to 1, which is more efficient that a lightly-loaded Amtrak train (26 to 1), in terms of vehicle weight/passenger weight alone.

          Now, there numbers are off on the train’s passenger capacity. The maximum passenger capacity for Amtrak passenger cars is 78, giving the 6 car train described above a maximum capacity of 468 passengers, which at 170 pounds each makes the train/passenger weight ratio of 13.57 at maximum capacity.

          The Corolla with just a driver would be ~15. only marginally worse than the full capacity train and a drastic improvement over the train at even half capacity.

          The car at 1/4 to 1/5th of its passenger capacity beats an Amtrak interurban train at half capacity for vehicle/passenger weight ratio by a significant margin and a full. But then you have to realize that in raw terms trains aren’t all the fuel efficient.

          Cargo trains come out looking very efficient because they measure it by gallons/ton/mile and a cargo train can carry thousands of tons of cargo.

  3. I hope the Fed Gov claws back the money which has already been wasted.
    Newsom wants to be seen as a ‘national leader’; fine. Make him the leader of an impoverished 3rd-world country.

    1. Yep. California’s Government Mansion is where presidential hopefuls go to die. Kamala learned the lesson of Gray Davis and skipped it, Newsom not so much.

      1. Didn’t Ronald Reagan hold a pretty high ranking job in California?

        1. That was before the Reagan amnesty. Permanent Democrat majorities are now ensured.

          1. Just another reason to cull progressives.

    2. If Democrats get all three branches he won’t have to leave the country to be the leader of an impoverished, third-world country.

  4. The Trump Administration has cut off funding for the budget-busting boondoggle.

    Trump on Mt. Rushmore!

  5. Let’s not forget, though, that Trump wants a trillion dollar infrastructure deal, which is bound to include hundreds of billions in waste, fraud, abuse and mismanagement.

    1. But, unlike Democratic infrastructure deals, might actually involve some infrastructure being built…

    2. This is true. But CA’s HSR project manages to reach hundreds of billions in waste, fraud, abuse, and mismanagement on what was supposed to be a $10 billion project.

  6. Yeah well they still haven’t fixed the traffic problem and potholes on route 41.

    Backs up every day.

    I don’t want to hear about hypersonic bullet trains.

    1. Nobody gets on the View or MSNBC by fixing potholes.

      1. ‘The View’……….

        Just a bunch of fat brainless biddies clucking inanely.

  7. Three things I enjoy: bullets, trains, and pork.
    I’m not seeing a problem here.

    1. Shooting pigs from a train is illegal.

      1. Not in Texas, we have a feral pig problem here, you can shoot them from helicopters too.

  8. I think federal money comes from a ‘teat’, not a ‘spigot’.

    1. That’s why it was her turn! She has two of those!

  9. California needs more immigration.

    1. Immigration of progressive natives from CA to Venezuela. Immigration is compulsory.

  10. Let’s not forget, though, that Trump wants a trillion dollar infrastructure deal, which is bound to include hundreds of billions in waste, fraud, abuse and mismanagement, here : Memulai usaha

    1. Wow, word for word the same as “some guy” above.
      Nice bot you have there

  11. I ride trains frequently, NYC subway, NJ transit, LIRR, Amtrak including America’s current high speed train the Acela.

    Cross country high speed rail is stupid for a nation of flyers.

    1. I took the Starlight from Seattle to Venture once. It would have been cheaper and faster to have rented a nice convertible, eaten at 4 star restaurants, stayed at a four star hotel for the night, and just driven it. AND I might have actually seen the advertised sunset over the Pacific, instead of being stuck in a mountain valley at the time.

      And my then wife might not have gotten tennis elbow from bouncing off the walls on the bad stretches of rail.

      On the bright side, I did get a close look at the loading docks of a lot of factories, which was kind of entertaining. (I’m an engineer.)

  12. before I looked at the bank draft saying $9300, I have faith …that…my best friend realy bringing home money in their spare time at their laptop.. there aunt started doing this for only about 17 months and resently took care of the mortgage on there mini mansion and got a great Smart ForTwo. this is where I went,

    1. A mansion AND a Smart car? WOW!!!!

  13. It’s hard for Gavin Newsom to sound credible when complaining about this one, since Newsom has been critical of the high-speed rail project, too.

  14. Oh, well, when the whole budget is in waste on what was supposed to be that $10 billion project? There’s nothing to talk about. They obliged to care about people, but what do we see?
    For example, my cares about people, I bet they can too?

  15. It never ceases to amaze me the pigs in power always want more pork.

  16. “California Sues to Protect Its Federal Bullet Train Pork”

    Translation: we have already wastefully spent what has already been given to us and are desperate t get the rest.

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